The process of grieving over a relationship

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Grieving is immediately associated with loss, as it should be. However, in this case I’m not talking about the death of a loved one, but the death of a relationship. Mourning a relationship is different than that of an individual only in that the circumstances are different. The process you go through to grieve is unsettlingly comparable. There are a few things you need to understand about grieving that you may not have realized.

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The five stages of grief – denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance – “are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost,” according to grief.com. I first heard of this structure in a movie when I was younger. It makes a lot of sense and has been seen to be the way we progress in the process of mourning. However, due to the fact that it’s structured in linear format, we think that the process of grieving is a linear one – IT’S NOT.  

Some days are going to be better than others.  There are days you’ll feel like you’re back to normal – meeting a friend for coffee, spending the day shopping, or going to work just like you always have. Other days will feel like you can’t breathe right and you’ll want to stay in bed forever. The process of grieving, as I see it, is more like a wave – there’s an ebb and flow to your emotions that can go either way. One thing remains true, though – over time, you will feel better.

A very important aspect of grief is to make sure you are surrounded by your nearest and dearest, you need a support system to get out of this as unscathed as possible (but never unscathed at all). Grief is not only the loss or death of someone but the coming to terms with something that is out of your control. Having a supportive community by you is vital. At the very least you’ll have someone to meet over a glass of wine and cry to or yell at to get your feelings out in the open. Repressing your emotions is the worst thing to do to yourself in the process of grieving, you’re only prolonging the inevitable overflow.

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Once you have acknowledged what has happened – your relationship is over – you need to find a place in your mind to accept that it wasn’t meant to be (or that it ran its course, or whatever you need to tell yourself to get over the self-loathing or other negative thoughts you were sure to be throwing around in your mind). Acceptance is the last stage in the five stages of grief, and it’s there for a reason. Once you accept, you are free.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

Lastly, know that closure doesn’t exist. Reality is not a movie that’s neatly tied up with a giant bow of self-fulfillment and happy endings. While we all want to feel a sense of completion and to move forward never to look back or have feeling creep back in, that is not how the world works. Loss leaves a scar that never really heals, and if you find that corny, look at yourself and see if that, in fact, isn’t true for you too.

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