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Lifestyle, Marriage, Relationships, Relationships The 5 Stages of Grieving the End of a Relationship

The 5 Stages of Grieving the End of a Relationship

By Ridhima Goenka   

“I’m not in love with you anymore.”

“I think we should break up.”

“We are not working out anymore. I’m sorry.”

These words are the most unwanted words that anyone in a relationship ever wants to hear. Breaking up is not something anyone can easily bounce back from. It is a hard ordeal to go through, no matter if the relationship was loveless or doomed from the start. The moment this ordeal takes place, you are shocked. The fact that your relationship is over fails to register with you. You experience a plethora of emotions all at once: anger, hurt, abandoned, heart-broken. But most of all you are afraid – you become afraid fearing that you will never find a partner who will honestly love and take care of you. The relationship that you thought was forever has suddenly ended. You mourn for that relationship.

Breaking up and losing your partner can be a very exhausting experience. The roller coaster of distressing emotions that goes in your mind makes you wanna scream out loud. One minute you are crying over your ex-partner and grieving over your broken relationship, and the next minute you are filled with rage and just want to wreck your partner’s car for this heartbreak he/she caused you.

You keep moping around hopelessly, afraid that if you do stop grieving over him/her, you will have to finally admit the harsh reality to yourself that your relationship has, in fact, ended and now you have to live a life without him/her forever. When someone you had counted on to be there for you tomorrow suddenly leaves you, how exactly can you cope?

The 5 Stages of Grieving the End of a Relationship

The 5 Stages of Grieving the End of a Relationship

Elisabeth Kublar-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief

Elisabeth Kublar-Ross, in 1969, elaborated the five stages of grief an individual faces in her book On Death and Dying. The book detailed the specific emotions a healthy individual goes through when they face an unexpected loss. Even though this guide’s writings were particularly assigned to the loss of connection due to death, it can also be applied to the loss of connection one feels during a breakup. It is always necessary and apt to grieve when one loses someone they had loved, be it due to death or break-up.

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Understanding the five stages of grieving will help you accept the break-up faster and get you back on your feet in no time!


“This can’t be happening!”


No, no no…we’re not broken up.”

Denial is the first reaction an individual has when he or she experiences the loss of a relationship. This is the stage where your heart rules over your logical mind to mend your belief system when you try adapting yourself to the thought that the person you loved the most has now left you. Consciously you know that your relationship is over but you really don’t want to accept this reality. Against everyone’s better judgements, you end up harbouring fantasies of you and your partner resolving the issues and somehow getting back together. Even though your ex-partner has made it clear that the relationship is over, you can’t help but see a ray of hope. This is actually our mind’s defence mechanism so that you don’t have to deal with all the painful feelings of grief over your broken relationship. When you experience this feeling of denial over the loss of a relationship, try accepting the brutal truth:

  • Don’t cave and text or call your partner as you used to.
  • Cry all the pain out.
  • Surround yourself with family and friends.
  • Have a diary or journal where you can write down all your feelings.



“How dare he/she do this to me?!”

“Why did this happen? I do NOT deserve this!”

“Ugh! I hate him/her!”

As time passes, the reality of your situation starts to become clear and slowly, you tend to feel the pain of your heartbreak. And this pain and hurt is often manifested and expressed as anger. Break-up anger can be exhibited in numerous ways – anger at your ex, anger at God, anger at yourself, anger at people or circumstances that played part in your break-up and anger at other people who can’t seem to bear your anger. Filled with anger, you find that it a great idea to tell everyone you know what a douche your ex was. This is also the stage where you may end up sending hateful texts to your ex. You don’t exactly think rationally at this stage. All you need is to blame someone for the pain that’s clawing your heart. Anger is nothing but all your suppressed emotions that is bursting at the seams.

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You need to learn to forgive to get past this irrational anger:

  • Realize the fact that both you and your ex are responsible for the break-up.
  • Know that you are the only one suffering from pain.
  • Admit that you’re not thinking rationally right now.
  • Divert your attention to other activities.


“Please God, stop this pain. I promise to do better the next time.”

“Baby, we should get back together again.”

“I promise I won’t do that again. Just give me another chance please!”

You plead with God, you plead with yourself and most of all, you try to bargain with your ex to take you back. Bargaining and denial are two sides of the same coin; they go hand in hand. At the stage of bargaining, you end up looking for every possible way to get your relationship back on track – threats, negotiations. You plead with God incessantly that you will become a better person if He gets your ex back to you. You try to bargain with your ex, telling him/her that you will change for them if they get back together.  You realize that you will do literally anything to swap this situation. At this point, you are even willing to try astrology, voodoo that may give you predict a reunion between you and your partner. You also try to make your friends and family talk to your ex to take you back.

You just want the pain to stop:

  • Evade away from any direct contact with your ex.
  • Take a break from social media so that you’re not reminded of him/her.
  • Never try to win him/her back.
  • Acknowledge that you can be independent.
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“It’s really over, isn’t it.”

“I’m so emotionally drained.”

“I can’t do this anymore. I’m tired and just want to sleep.”

At this stage, you finally realize that there’s nothing you can do to change your ex’s mind. You are able to accept the situation for what it truly is. This realization comes with a setback – you may find yourself feeling really depressed and sad. Like anger, depression too can be expressed in many forms – feeling extremely tired, just wanting to lay in bed for the whole day, feeling emotionally detached from your friends and family, always crying, loss of appetite or overeating and of course, hopelessness. Hopelessness penetrates your mind and leads you to assume that nothing will ever be the same. It makes you believe that you will never be able to move on and that you will be like this forever.

It’s not an easy feat but you should try your hardest to recover your mental and physical health as fast as you can:

  • Stay away from people who give off negative vibes.
  • Take a vacation to clear your mind.
  • Talk to someone who will thoroughly listen.


“It may hurt now but I know I’ll be okay.”

“I don’t need him/her in my life.”

“I’m moving on for good.”

Acceptance is the final stage where you are able to make peace with your grief. It may not come on altogether at one go; it will happen slowly, little by little. It may also not assure you happiness but when you enter this stage you will be more rational and logical. Acceptance makes you let go of the relationship and helps you to move towards the next chapter of your life.

Your memories of your ex may prompt your emotions from time to time but you will not be an emotional mess over it:

  • Box away all photos and present from your ex.
  • Focus on the advantages of letting go.
  • Trust that time will heal every emotional scar.




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