The breakdown of any relationship is hard, harder still if you share a home, a life and years of memories. There’s lot’s of advice out there recommending giving yourself a bit of tough love, ‘accept the truth – it’s over.’ Now whilst there is some truth in this, it’s definitely not the first, second of even third thing you should do. Even if the breakup was completely amicable you will still mourn for it. The end of a once treasured relationship is akin to a death, it evokes similar emotional responses and has it’s own grieving process, it’s essential that you give yourself the time and space to grieve for this loss. It’s ok not to be ok. If you need to wallow, then wallow. A good cry, a bottle of wine and The Notebook have seen many people through those first dark days after a breakup.
Grieving stages for a breakup.
1. Denial - Being unable to accept or believe that this has happened to you is completely normal and usually the first emotions you’ll feel.
2. Hurt – The second stage doesn’t just refer to emotional distress, some people report physical pain after a breakup, a throbbing in their chest or an aching in their stomach is quite common.
3. Bargaining – This is the stage where a lot of people try to reignite the flame, don’t let fear of the unknown take you backwards, if your relationship wasn’t working. If you hear yourself saying words such as ‘If he agrees to do this or ‘if she promises to do that’ or similar then stay strong, most breakups happen for a good reason.
4. Depression – It is at this stage that realisation sets in and the depressive stage starts, this is the darkest moment and one that you will need support for. Please go to friends and family at this time as it’s important to ride this particular wave with a good emotional network around you.
5. The upward turn – This usually comes with time, which incidentally is a very good healer.
6. Reconstruction – This stage see’s you turn to the future. You have been on your own long enough now to see the positives of a life without your ex, you will begin to look to the future and can see your life without your ex.
7. Acceptance and hope - You no longer feel any of the emotions associated with a breakup strongly. You are able to look back at your relationship kindly and look forward to your life with excitement.
Those were the seven stages of grief post breakup, you may not feel all of them, you may go through them in a slightly different order but for most this is the journey they will take once the door is closed on their relationship.
There are of course things you can do in the meantime that will help speed the process up or make things easier for you.
Social media is the devil when it comes to breakups; avoid cyber stalking your ex at all costs. Many people avoid deleting or blocking their exes for fear of looking petty, but don’t be. The people in your life that care about things like that don’t matter and the ones that matter won’t care. Cleansing yourself of your ex is healthy and can be extremely cathartic.
Getting away from it all may not be financially feasible, maybe your work won’t allow it or your family commitments mean you can’t get away. Even if you can’t physically get away from it all try doing it emotionally. Getting out of the house may sound like a small thing but it can help an enormous amount. Leave your phone at home, take a book or magazine to indulge in and go for a coffee. Even something as small as going for a walk can help, in Japan the practice of Shinrin-Yoku (going for a walk in the woods) has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and increase your overall feeling of wellbeing.
As well as taking a break from your situation it’s important to take a break from dating too. The old adage ‘to get over someone you need to get under someone else’ only goes so far. Dating is an emotional distraction yes, but that’s all it is. It won’t help you emotionally or mentally and should really be seen as a form of psychological procrastination.
In short, if you surround yourself with good people, give yourself the time you need and allow yourself to go through the breakup stages of grief then you will come out the other side… in the mean time, grab a glass of vino and stick The Notebook on, trust me it works!