The Real Stages of Grief

I’ve read a lot about the stages of grief online. Whether it’s a job loss, death of a loved one, relationship ending, or a pet that has died, there seems to be a common pattern to the grief we go through. In this case, I want to talk about how these stages of grief apply to the end of a relationship both for the one who decided to end it, and for the other who was on the receiving end of this. I’ve been on both sides of this fence in my life and wish to speak from both points of view now.

The Leaver

The leaver is the person who decided to end a relationship. For whatever reason, they have chosen to attempt to move on. I played this role in my marriage. I think some might think that the person doing this is a bit heartless and screwed up in the head. I don’t deny to having my share of problems in my head, however, if there was any kind of repoire, respect, and care in the relationship, and especially kids, the leaver is going through a lot of emotion.

I know this emotion too well. My stages of grief in regards to my marriage have gone something like this:

  • Battling the reality of the situation (Denial)
  • Willing, then not willing to make the choice reality shows (Indecision)
  • Making a choice to end the relationship (Decision)
  • Wondering if the choice made was the right thing (Regret)
  • Feeling like the choice was the absolute wrong thing to do (Remorse)
  • Realizing and accepting reality for what it is (Acceptance)

I feel these stages having appeared at different times. I’m not quite to acceptance, in fact, I feel a great deal of regret and remorse right now and I believe I need my own time to heal. I have learned that whether you leave or are left, you will feel regret and remorse, if your relationship was any kind of good.

The Left

The left is the person who heard the bad news from their partner and wasn’t planning on ending a relationship, but they now have little choice as the leaver has decided to end things. The one in this position gets to experience the stages of pain and sorrow much quicker than the leaver. It’s almost a reverse order of the stages and my experience in this situation was something like this (notice how indecision and decision are left out. This is because the left had no choice in the matter):

  • Battling the reality of the situation (Denial)
  • Wondering what went wrong¬†(Regret)
  • Wishing you could have done something better¬†(Remorse)
  • Realizing and accepting reality for what it is (Acceptance)

If you have a relationship or situation that is any kind of good or there is repoire, the ending of it is going to be painful for both sides. Take the necessary time to heal, which is what I now need to do.

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