5 Stages of Breakup Grief

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Breakups can be heartbreaking and soul crushing. The more meaningful the relationship, the more painful its demise. Whatever the cause of a breakup, however long the relationship lasted, whether you are in your 20s or 40s, or you were the dumper or the dumpee, when a relationship ends, you will grieve. You may lose all reason, do senseless things or generally feel like shit. And it’s all ok. Because when a relationship ends, it’s only natural to go through the 5 stages of breakup grief.

1. Denial: Wait…what?
In stage 1, the breakup doesn’t feel real. Regardless of who ended the relationship, there is usually some degree of disbelief that the once blissful, giddy-with-each-other relationship is slowly, or shockingly, coming to an end. His coffee mug is still at your place. You have tickets to a show next month. Just last week you were planning a trip together, and now it’s over. “Wait, what??” It can’t be over.

But it IS over and reality sinks in. So you either coast or plummet into stage 2.

2. Psychosis: Raving Lunatic
Raving has been defined as “irrational” and lunatic is defined as “insane/foolish person.” Stage 2 beautifully combines both to make you a Raving Lunatic. Just as you lose all rational thinking when falling in love, so too will your senses leave their cranial premises at love’s demise. In this stage, you say and do crazy shit that you would not otherwise be doing if you were in your right mind.

Your clear-headed friends will say, “No, do NOT check his Instagram.” Or “Go to his place??!! NO!” But you rattle off every imaginable excuse to support your brand of crazy and do your shit anyway.

So you drive by his house, circling the block as you sob. Perhaps you hoped to see him while he was on his way to his car. You envision driving up alongside him, rolling down the window and saying, all choked up, “I feel terrible about our breakup. Please comfort me… And oh, here’s your mug.” It could happen.

Maybe you lose an hour of productive living by listening to every voicemail message he ever left you, trying to pinpoint exactly when in the relationship his messages went from endearing to casual. Because, well… just because, damn it.

And of course, you also have access to Facebook, Snapchat and every form of online self-torture. Because you really need to know that hey, he’s still living his life, liking and posting shit, as if things were back to normal for him, when really he should be completely paralyzed with grief over losing you.

3. Misery: Why me?
At some point in your temporary insanity you start questioning yourself. You dive deep into stage 3. Why me? What happened? If it was your decision to end the relationship, you might begin to feel decision remorse, “Maybe it’s ok that we hardly saw each other.” Or “Did I really need to be attracted to him?” Nothing makes sense.

You begin to carry a heavy sadness around to the point that the very act of being “normal” is exhausting. So all day you fill the sadness dam with unshed tears and as soon as you get home, you face plant onto your bed and unleash. And we aren’t talking about the dainty, sniffly tears either. We’re talking the full-on flood gates of an ugly cry so ugly that you are shocked right out of it when you see yourself in the mirror while reaching for the tissue on your vanity, “Whoa…is that me?? Where are my eyes??”

Eventually, your tears dry up and the hollow pit in your chest becomes a source of strength. Your sadness goes numb and gives way to stage 4.

4. Affirmation: Screw this
As you rise from the haze of blinded misery, you take stock of what you lost against what you have and conclude, “Screw this, I’m better than this!”

In stage 4 you launch into a personal pep talk; you remind yourself that you are successful, beautiful and a glowing ray of sunshine. And you eventually convince yourself that, no, you will not end up old and alone sitting in your rocker, with a dozen cats you are allergic to, while knitting scarves for your lady friends and their husbands in the retirement home.

The broken heart starts to heal and scab over. “Everything is going to be OK,” which is something he used to always tell you. But whatever. Everything will be ok. So you stand up tall and forge on, back to your wonderful life.

5. Restart: Freak on

It may take a while to get to stage 5. You might decide to focus on your work, hobbies or sculpting your breakup body. But at some point, things come full circle. You begin to welcome attention and have lingering naughty thoughts. This signals to you that maybe, just maybe, you might be ready to get your freak on again. Welcome to stage 5.

So, why not open up shop for the cute guy in marketing who wants to check out the merchandise? After all, you are beautiful, desirable and a glowing ray of sunshine.

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