The Five Stages of Mourning: These apply to Relationship Break-Ups too   5 comments

Well readers, I think it’s about time that I opened up a little more about myself.  As you all know I was married for 16 yrs. I affectionately call those years my “self-induced coma” and I will get to why I call it that in a different blog.  Right now I want to talk about the different stages of mourning because I went through them when my “self-induced coma” came to an end and even some of the stages before it finally did.  These stages were first proposed by Elsabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969 in her book “On Death and Dying”. You can read more about them here.

These stages are Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance, in that order.  When a person is in pain from the loss of someone in their lives (even if it was a 16 yr. self-induced coma) they go through the exact same stages of mourning that a person does at the death of a loved one.  I went through every single one of these stages and I even “visited” some of them more than once.

I went through the first stage, the third and fourth stages even before the marriage was over.  By the time I had gotten to the anger stage, I was too tired to bother because being angry at him got me nowhere and besides, I had to ask myself, “was I angry with him or with me?”  I decided I was angry with myself.  Although I visited this anger stage quite often, I eventually got tired of being angry. I let it go on for as long as it did which brought me to the denial stage which lasted for the entire 16 years.  I was also depressed for that same amount of time.  I was just not happy in my marriage from the beginning to the bitter, ugly end.  It should be noted that I actually had a chance to walk away before it began but I didn’t (this is also something else I will discuss later on). 

My friends will tell you that I was one angry bird.  Of course I was because I had ever right to be angry but I only got angry when he did or said something stupid to make me angry.  It wasn’t one of those things where I just walked around angry at the world all the time because of him, it was an at that moment anger and once it was over it was over.  No residuals.

So when I found out all I did during the divorce, I found acceptance within myself.  I often tell people that it was literally 60 seconds after I received the phone call that something inside of me either snapped, clicked or something but whatever it was, it allowed me to remain dead calm. Even my son said I sounded “funny” when I talked to him that night. I didn’t raise my voice, I didn’t get angry and I didn’t scream.  Then again, it could have been because I wasn’t breathing for well over a minute at least it didn’t feel like I had been breathing because I remember taking a single huge breath and letting it out and then, calm.

It took me a couple of days before I cried and I don’t really know if I cried from relief in finally knowing the truth or out of frustration.  I think it was a combination of both but I do know it was more relief than anything because after I cried, I went to sleep and slept like a baby.  I hadn’t had a peaceful sleep in over five years at that point and the peace that I felt when I went to sleep and the peace that I felt when I woke up was something that I’d never felt before.  It’s as if I had been wrapped up in a blanket that shut out the world with all the noise and confusion and my mind went blank and I slept.  I’ve been sleeping like that every since. 

Some people never get to the acceptance stage though.  There are people walking around today still angry and bitter about breaking up and they carry that into other relationships and then can’t figure out why.  It’s because they haven’t accepted what happened in the last one and taken responsibility for their role in it.  However, they also have people in their lives telling them that they weren’t to blame so they can never get to this stage the right way.  They accepted that it’s over but they didn’t accept the reasons behind it.  My unsolicited advice is to get rid of these people.  They aren’t helping you at all and are actually hindering you.  If you call them “friend” and they are co-signing your madness, they aren’t your friends.  Misery loves company.  My real friends didn’t co-sign any madness that I came up with.  They told me point blank everything I didn’t want to hear but everything I needed to hear.  Some remained silent while I ranted and vented but they never co-signed any madness I may have entertained about being perfect, etc.  My best friend was the “worst” of the bunch.  That is why I love him to death.  He has never been one to sugar coat anything or tell me what I wanted to hear in the 30 yrs. we have been friends.  That’s not his style and I appreciate that from him.  He is one of a very few select group of people in my “inner circle” that bare the title “friend” and the only male.   Finding one let alone four of them is rare indeed.

I’m still in my acceptance stage.  I’m not angry any longer and now, I won’t allow him to anger me.  I actually talk to my DEH almost on a regular basis.  We don’t talk about anything but the kids or me checking on him to make sure he is ok in his wife’s absence.  Do I still care for him?  I’m not going to lie, I do but that doesn’t mean I love him or want to be with him again it means I care for him as a human being.  I spent 16 yrs. of my life loving him (actually 17 but who’s counting) and you can’t just wipe that away.  My mom still cares about my dad and they’ve been divorced for over 20 yrs. it’s just something that doesn’t go away. 

When I tell you acceptance is a beautiful thing, I can’t even begin to tell you how at peace I am now and I have my DEH to thank for it.  Had it not been for him taking me through all the change, I wouldn’t be who I am today!  So thank you again DEH!  *smooches*

And if you are wondering how long it has been since my divorce is final, it’s been 2 yrs.  I was “lucky” in that I went through a lot of the stages before it was final.  It has helped me move on a bit faster than most. 

Are you in mourning over a lost relationship?  Which stage are you in? 

Double E


Posted January 27, 2012 by doublee42 in Relationships

5 responses to “The Five Stages of Mourning: These apply to Relationship Break-Ups too

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  1. I too went through all the stages, but the intensity of the anger at the littlest of things is what got me. I recognized them right away and there for never really lost it from anger, but thats me. “Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. with a cool head and reasoning in place, you can move through most of these stages fairly easily. Denial and Isolation are passed with a support system, that is friends, family, a rebound relationship…..(not recommending the last). anger always has been a cover emotion for other feelings and if you can recognize that, it wont affect you much if at all. bargaining comes in when you are trying to figure out what you coulda done differently to keep them of maybe get them back. here is a hint for ya, its rarely your fault they left, it was a joint effort to split the relationship.. more on that some other time. depression comes in on the acceptance that they are gone, doesnt have to be full acceptance, can just be partial acceptance that you wont get what you need from them. it also comes around from blaming ones self over the situation. simply be decisive (ya, I know, easier said than done), accept your portion of the situation and let them take responsibility for their own portion. that moves you onto the final stage without even trying.

    a side note for ya, the stages remain the same if you leave or if you are left. things just feel differently but still resolve in the same matter.

    • I know for me I was tired of being angry at anyone, including myself, so I stopped. Like I said it served no purpose. As always you’re right that out allowed me to move through the rest of the stages tob where I am now….free.

      • its quite common for the duration of these stages to last 3 months to the rest of your life, all depending on your coping skills. most average around 9-36 months. it also makes a difference on who gives up on the relationship first. they usually get over it faster than the other. while the one who gives up first is often the one that leaves, it doesnt have to be so, giving up doesnt mean the one who steps out or leaves, it means the one who realized and accepted the doom of the relationship even if they remained in it. soooo many little details.

      • This is true. I had a counselor tell me I should’ve been over it in six months the first time my DEH cheated on me. Needless to say I stopped seeing that one

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