Grieving Relationships and Moving Forward

How Did I Get Here? Some of us struggle with the reality that we married before getting to know ourselves & what we really want. Some of us decide we are better off alone because we have been hurt in the past and can’t bear to go through that pain again. And some of us married because we wanted love so badly, we worked very hard to keep dead relationships alive. Divorce is devastating. It is emotionally and financially taxing. So, again, we ask ourselves, “How did I get here, and how can I get through this period of my life?” Hold the hope, you will get through it.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross outlines the Stages Of Grief, how you get over your old relationship while, at the same time, opening yourself to new possibilities.  There are strong feelings of loss that accompany the ending of a relationship, very similarly to a loved one dying. Though these experiences are painful, and we don’t want to feel our feelings, it is vital for a person to experience the emotions of these stages in order to arrive at a place where they can begin to carry on with life. If you have ended a relationship, allow yourself time and emotional energy to grieve, process, and heal.

Everyone experiences grief differently. We can spend different lengths of time working through each stage. We can experience feelings with various levels of intensity. We can jump around all over the place. Look at these stages as a guideline to the grieving process — it may help you put into context how you are currently doing.

  • Denial and Isolation:
    • Denying the reality of the situation
    • Our defenses work to protect us from our initial feelings of pain, though they may also cause us to behave in ways that distance ourselves from others, leaving us feeling alone (oh, those defences, can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em!)
  • Anger:
    • Denial wears off, reality sets in, and the pain is very real. We are still not ready to accept the situation. Because our emotions are so intense, and too vulnerable, our feelings are redirected and expressed instead as anger.
  • Bargaining:
    • In reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is a need to regain control
    • We ruminate over all the ‘if only’s’ – If only we did x, then this wouldn’t have happened!
  • Depression:
    • Sadness and regret, reflecting in private
    • Preparing to separate and say goodbye to our past partner
  • Acceptance:
    • Ability to withdraw ourselves from the divorce and feel calm

Coping with loss is a deeply personal experience, something you need to do on your own. Everyone experiences it differently. Though grief is very difficult, there is a healthy way to get through it. Invite others to be there for you and comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is allow yourself to feel all of your feelings as they happen. Believe that you will get through it, and you will be that much more stronger. There may even be some opportunities and gifts in it for you, so be on the look out, and grab them!

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