We Broke Up. Now What?
Hear DEAN UNGLERT from ABC’s the bachelor chat with gina on his show “Help! i suck at dating”
You Broke up. Now What?
Dean Unglert and his co-hosts Jared Haibon and Vanessa Grimaldi (all from the ABC’s The Bachelor/ette) share their breakup experiences and talk to Gina about the 5 stages of grief after a breakup. This blog describes those stages and gives you an understanding of what you might feel as you begin to heal your broken heart.
The 5 Stages of grief to heal Your Broken heart
“Hearts Will Never Be Practical
Until They Are Made Unbreakable”
~ The Wizard of Oz
How do you feel?
Angry? Sad? Guilty? Or just plain nothing?
After a breakup or any loss, we often experience our grief through 5 emotional stages.
These emotions are normal, and yet, they are passages, not places to stay.
Once you understand these stages, you will move through them with more understanding, love and compassion for yourself and others.
Grief is Unique
There are no typical breakups. It’s a highly individual journey and grief is as unique as each individual person. Some people wear their emotions openly on their sleeves, while others hold it more internally and may show no outward signs of sadness.
The key is to avoid judgment and be open to love, acceptance and understanding.
Well Meaning Friends
In an effort to support you, your friends might say:
“Don’t be angry. It won’t help.”
“Don’t be sad. You will find love someday.”
“It’s all for the best. Time to move on. Keep your chin up.”
“Snap out of it!”
“Anyway, you were too good for them.”
While they truly care about you, sometimes what you really need is to feel those emotions and move through them to the other side.
Throughout life, all of us will experience grief and loss, whether it’s a breakup, a passing of a loved one, a loss of a job or any disappointment.
While your response to your breakup is unique, there is a framework of five stages: denial, bargaining, anger, sadness and acceptance. Knowing and identifying these stages within ourselves and others is one path to understanding and finding peace in any challenging experience.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a psychiatrist and a leading authority on grief. These 5 stages have evolved from her wise teachings. I use this framework often when mentoring clients who are coping with a loss, including breakups.
Any Order - Anytime
These five stages are not hard and fast destinations on a linear journey but rather places where we might need to spend time to process our own grief and emotions. There is no order to the stages nor do people have to experience all of them. There also may be other responses that do not quite fit in this framework and those responses may also be part of a person’s journey of grief.
stage 1. DENIAL
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I’m opening a quart of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and watching a movie.”
“I’m going on Tinder.”
“I’m not even that upset, honestly.”
Sometimes we want to put our breakup in a box and set it on the shelf and say, “I’ll deal with it later.”
Welcome to denial. This is often the first stage of grief.
Reaction To Shock
Denial is one reaction to the shock of a breakup.
It can help you deal with a painful experience than can often seem overwhelming.
You might feel that life makes absolutely no sense and actually question the meaning of life.
You might just feel numb.
Our million year old brain is designed to protect our mind and body from harm.
Your brain is helping you cope and allowing only in as much as you can deal with.
It’s a primal way your brain protects yourself from feeling vulnerable and not in control.
You may find that there is a period of time when you just can’t face the facts. This is a normal part of the grieving process.
Denial Can Be Helpful
While denial may seem unhealthy, unkind and lacking in compassion, in fact, it might be quite helpful. Denial gives your mind a chance to absorb the breakup at a pace you can handle that won’t send you into an instant psychological overload and breakdown. It can give you a chance to sort it out to deal with it in a more mindful and healthy way.
When Denial is Harmful
The key with denial is to make sure that you do not get stuck in this stage to the point where you are ultimately not able to function or ever deal with the issue. Denial can be harmful at this stage if it prevents you from getting help or dealing with an issue before it spirals out of control. There is no hard and fast line that you cross from helpful to harmful, it’s more of an awareness and noticing when more damage is being done by denying the issue.
Take Your Time
I recently had a friend share with me that he has never really recovered from a painful breakup from years ago. He describes his past girlfriend as, “His one and only.” Yet, life has a way of giving us what we need and he found himself caring for a dear friend going through a painful divorce. His denial reared its head and now he has found the courage to get clarity and certainty about his own denial.
It’s really okay to say, “I can’t deal with this right now,” knowing that it is only temporary. While facing your fears can be challenging, the unknown can create more unconscious anxiety than dealing with the actual facts. Ultimately, you move through your denial as you progressively become more able to process your emotions around your breakup.
Emotions Will Surface
Know that as the denial fades, the underlying emotions will surface and a different kind of processing will begin. Your denial can give you the much needed time to be ready to handle these emotions as they begin to arise.
Helping a Friend
While it can be frustrating to be with a friend or loved one in the denial stage, pause and determine if they just might need a bit more time to process what is happening. Let them know you are there for them whenever they are ready.
Give them a safe and loving space to open up and learn the important art of listening without needing to fix the situation.
stage 2. BARGAINING
“I should have… I could have… I would have…”
“If only we could try again. I just know I could make it work.”
Let’s Make a Deal
Bargaining is the stage where you attempt to make a promise, a deal or an agreement to change history.
Grasping for the Past
Sometimes after a breakup, we rewrite history to try to reverse it. We grasp for our past and for our life to be as it always has been. We even bargain with our emotional pain, attempting to negotiate and do anything to avoid the feeling. Yet, wherever you go, there you are and the only way to heal is to move through it.
Would, Could, Should
In the bargaining stage, there are endless “what if I…” and “only if I…” statements that we recite both silently in our heads and openly to others. We review the past and work to uncover all the things we believe we would have done, could have done, should have done, and maybe still can do to get back together.
Guilt also plays a great role in this stage and we blame ourselves and believe we could have done something differently.
While you might hope and pray you can redo the relationship, the reality is the same.
You broke up. Moving through the bargaining stage happens when you begin to accept your new reality and start to adjust your life based on what is in it now, not by what could have been.
Weave Through the Stages
Know that you weave in an out of all of these stages. Some only last moments while others can last days and weeks.
stage 3. ANGER
“It’s Your Fault!”
“There really is something wrong with you!”
“You need to change!”
Anger is an Important Emotion
Anger is part of the emotional spectrum of life. It can also be a very important stage in the healing process.
Society Teaches THAT Anger is Not Good
Many of us learn that anger is not good.
You've heard, “Don’t be angry.”
Sometimes, we suppress, deny and avoid our anger rather than feeling it.
Others are taught that they are above anger and pretend not to feel it.
Yet others even use anger as power and a way to justify unjust behaviors and dangerous actions.
Just pick up a newspaper and you will see endless examples of unchecked anger.
None of these are healthy emotional responses.
Anger Can Be Helpful
Anger can be a spark of energy to bring you back to life. In contrast, denial can seem like you are in a lifeboat lost at sea.
While anger left unchecked can be harmful and unhealthy, there is another side. In this stage of grief, the more you allow yourself to feel angry, the sooner it can begin to dissipate and lead you toward healing.
Underneath your anger are many other emotions and underneath those emotions can be pain. While moving through your anger can seem endless, just know anger can provide a spark of energy to open you to lean through the pain and on with life.
Angry at Everyone
During this stage, you might feel angry toward a lot of people: your ex, your friends in great relationships and yourself. If you are religious, you might even be angry at God.
You might ask:
“This isn’t fair.”
“Why should they have a great relationship when I deserve it more?”
The Depth of Love
Know that anger can be a signpost of the depth of feeling you have about love. Anger can represent the loss of your deep connection to your partner.
The depth and intensity of your anger might also show the depth and intensity of your love. Move through it, learn from it and allow it to pass naturally.
During moments of anger, ask yourself:
What insights into yourself can you learn from your anger?
What really matters to you and how has that been affected?
stage 4. SADNESS
“My heart hurts.”
“I ran out of Kleenex.”
“That was my only chance for love. I know I will never fall in love again.”
Sadness is Part of Life
After a breakup, some people say they are depressed. Depression can be such an overused word these days and I prefer to refer to this stage as deep sadness.
Know that sadness and even brief moments of depression are all part of a natural spectrum of life’s emotions.
You might question whether this sadness is normal, or someone may encourage you to, “Snap out of it.” Realize that a breakup can represent the loss of a life you dreamed of. This can be sad and at times feel depressing. That means you are human. You feel deeply for life and sometimes the ending of a relationship can seem so unnatural and something that possibly could not be fixed.
While it may not help you in the moment, we are all really aware that this is part of the cycle of life.
A Journey of Goodbye
At this stage, the deeper feelings of grief enter our reality, deeper than we sometimes can imagine. It’s a time when we journey through our goodbye to our partner. This type of sadness is not mental illness. In fact, it is quite appropriate and a natural reaction to a breakup, yet it can feel like it will go on forever.
Sadness Can Represent A Depth of Love
To not feel any sadness would not be natural. Allow the sadness and understand it represents your depth of love and feeling for someone.
While it may seem that at times you are buried under the weight of a dense fog, know these feelings are a true and real part of life. As you move through the sadness, know that the contrast between joy and sadness allows you to appreciate even more of all of your emotional spectrum in all its colors of light and dark and many shades of gray.
Know, you are human and emotions express our humanity.
stage 5. ACCEPTANCE
“I’m open to love…”
The New Reality
This stage is about coming to terms with your breakup. It does not make it right or OK. Let’s avoid any labels. It just is.
At this stage we accept and begin to learn to live with our new reality. This is a deeply personal and unique experience. Acceptance does not always mean happiness right away but it can mean peace.
The acceptance stage is where we learn to move forward accepting that the relationship with your ex is another chapter in the history of your life.
This stage does not mean that you won’t miss them. You may even sometimes still shed a tear. What it does mean is that you have allowed yourself the gift of progressing through the stages of grief and have found acceptance and peace in moving forward.
You might even find ways to be grateful for the love and magical moments you shared, the lessons you learned about love, and the possibilities the relationship has provided for your future.
It is time where you can find peace amidst the challenges and realities of life.
Knowing these five stages will help you navigate life after a breakup and lead you forward to a beautiful life filled with love, compassion and joy.
A New Reality
"It’s the space between the love we lost and the love that we hope to find that we find ourselves."
Acceptance, I suppose.
A new reality. Definitely.
We adjust. We change. We learn. We grow.
We share our experiences of love and of life.
And most importantly, we love…again, and again, and again.
Be Well, Be Joyful, Be Inspired…
Have a Beautiful Day…