The Breakup Process: How The 5 Stages Of Grief Apply To Lost Love

by Lindsey Lazarte

What do you do when you're in a relationship that's clearly not working, but neither of you have the guts to pull the plug? The obvious answer is for one of the parties to just suck it up and say those two dreadful words: “It’s over.”

Why is that so hard, anyway?

It might be easier if it were as simple as uttering two small words.

It’s not the words that make ending a relationship difficult. Instead, it’s the actions behind those words; the actions you have to take to officially cut the cord from this person.

As they say, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

It’s a bittersweet feeling when you face the harsh realities of the inevitable demise of your once beautiful and loving relationship.

Both of you know it’s for the best, but then, the rush of nostalgia comes crashing in and you start to reminisce about your first date and the way he or she made you feel when you first met.

You miss those butterflies you had in the beginning when it was new and exciting.

So, what do you do when this happens?

Well, at first, you do whatever you can to get the butterflies back. You try to re-light a flame from a candle that burned out long ago at some distant point in your relationship.

A breakup goes through its own version of the common stages of grief, known as “The Five Stages of Grief (or Loss).” Here's how:


You defend your partner, no matter what your friends or family say. You create excuses for all of the fights, bad moments and warning signs in your relationship that let you know it just won't end well.

You refuse to believe there is anything truly wrong, and you often convince yourself it’s just a “rough patch.”


You displace your negative emotions toward your partner and loved ones. You are hostile, irritable and generally unpleasant to be around.

You can’t focus on anything except your frustration about going back and forth on whether to stay or go.


You make compromises and come up with ways to say you will change.

You beg your partner to be a better person and promise things will be better between the two of you. You will do or say anything just for him or her to stay.


You can’t go anywhere without being a complete Debbie Downer. You listen to sad songs to comfort your emotions.

You’re in a funk in which you can’t focus, eat, sleep, work or even fully function because you’re so consumed by the sad reality that your relationship is coming to an end and there is nothing you can do about it.


You move past all of the hurt and pain and finally come to terms with letting him or her go. There is nothing left to do or say. You accept that this is where the road led you, and you can finally begin to move on.

The wound will heal in time and you now understand that.

Although these stages may ensue in a different order, we all experience them at some point when it comes to losing someone. Losing someone we love is one of the most difficult processes to endure.

There is no way to know for sure when you will completely recover, but we do have to move on.

Just know that eventually, you will reach the stage of acceptance.