The Grief Cycle
I am often asked, “How do I survive my marriage ending when I can not even focus on simple everyday tasks? How do I get through this relationship transition when the pain is so unbearable? What am I to do? How will I ever feel normal and safe and happy again?” These are all great questions! I found myself asking these very same questions when I was going through the end of my marriage.
The answer? You are right where you need to be! All of the raw emotions, the sleepless nights, and the foggy brain are all very normal feelings for a relationship ending. This is the beginning of the grief cycle. It is how your mind, body, emotions deal with a significant loss. These very same emotions are what we feel when we lose a beloved family member or pet. When a cherished relationship comes to an end, grieving begins. Some have even argued that it is worse than losing a loved one to death. I would not go so far as to compare it to a parent losing a child or a child losing a parent. I would think that would be far worse. However, the raw pain and heart-shredding emotions are genuine. Just remind yourself that the feelings you are dealing with at hand are very normal and necessary for you to return to a healthy-centered emotional state.
5 Stages Of Grief
Have you ever heard of the Grief Cycle, also known as the 5 Stages Of Grief? Yeah, me neither, until I went through my divorce. However, I am glad that I learned about them when I did. Are you ready to learn about them?
They are as follows:
Stage 1 – Denial
Stage 2 – Anger
Stage 3 – Bargaining
Stage 4 – Depression
Stage 5 – Acceptance
D.A.B.D.A for short. DABDA is how our bodies process grief. It allows our mind, emotions, feelings, and physiology to go through its’ own healing journey. Over the next few posts and videos, I will go into each of these stages. I’ll be giving you the grand tour of what to expect as you journey through these five stages while you are on your way to healing from your loss.
For now, let me give you a brief overview of each of these grief cycle stages.
Stage One, Denial, is where a lot of people end up staying. They become numb and afraid to process the hurt, the anger, the sadness, the loss. Denial can become a synthetic reality. It is easy to deny what is happening in their lives. They would rather ignore or run away from reality, turning off all emotions. Therapists have shown that the human mind can not turn off just one emotion or feeling. It is all or nothing when it comes to shutting down your emotions. This may save you temporarily from hurt, sadness, and loss, but it also blocks joy, happiness, peace.
Stage Two, Anger, can be terrifying and disheartening if you are a very cherie and mellow person. This stage is very normal and is a part of the fight or flight limbic system at work. Your very way of life has become disrupted in a traumatic way. You now want to fight for the old way of life, if possible. Some want to run away from it. Most want to fight for it. You may find yourself saying it is not fair! This is my life too! This new anger tends to alarm those around us, which leads us into the next stage.
Stage Three, Bargaining, is when our rational side begins to see our Anger stage is alarming those around us. It may be pushing those very people we want to reconcile with into their own fight or flight. We begin to plead, beg, bargain with those that have created the trauma and are beginning their flight away from our anger. Be gentle with yourself during this time. This can seem like a very desperate and hopeless stage in your grief cycle. You may find yourself cycling back and forth between the Anger Stage and the Bargaining Stage quite frequently. Take heart. This is you fighting for your familiar way of life. Not the new normal of relational transition into a breakup, separation, or divorce.
Stage Four, Depression, sounds like a place that nobody wants to go through. Honestly, it is how our bodies, minds, emotions, and soul begins to heal. The emotional hurricane of the out of body numbness of denial, the searing pain-filled anger, and intense anxiety of bargaining, drains us to an empty shell of a person. Depression is our body telling us, okay dude! You’ve overloaded all of the circuits; it’s time to shut down for a while. It is why those going through Stage Four feel like they are walking through wet cement while dragging the weight of the world on their shoulders. It is okay. Be kind to yourself as you journey through Stage Four. Acknowledge that it is needed downtime. You will make it through it to the healing stage.
Stage Five, Acceptance, is where true healing begins. You have Denied, Fought, Bargained, and Depleted your entire being in the previous four stages. Acceptance is where you can begin to move from the emotional storms of the past into the peace of what’s ahead of you. This can be the toughest stage to get to if you fight the first four. Acceptance is the gateway to “I’m ready to move forward now!”.
One of the best things to know about the Five Stages of Grief is that this journey is not sequential You will find yourself cycling from Stage One to Stage Two to Stage Three only to be triggered by an ex-spouse or ex-family member to send you back to Stage Two. Recycling through previous stages is normal and to be expected. When you go back through a stage, the time spent there is allowing you to refine your healing. When you hear about those people that “really put in the work” or “they have really worked on themselves,” these people have cycled back through these stages many time. I know for a fact, I when through all of these stages for my marriage, my family, my children, my ex-friends, etc…
All of these stages are not to be feared or avoided. They serve a great purpose in our healing journeys![sc name=”pinsave” ]
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