Five stages of heartache & heartbreak - Lily Cramer

Life, Love & Health | Ways to embrace self-improvement and increase life learning.

Five stages of heartache & heartbreak

Often we hear people who just had their heart broken saying something along the lines of “Why me??” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

I can tell you why. It is a test. If you are a good person, the universe wants to test your ability to be more; to be a great person. The considered bad things are actually tests of character, allowing you to learn and develop beyond your current means. Isn’t it beautiful, how a person can take a bad thing that has happened and evolve from it?

That is the allure of personal evolution. People are often completely emerged in the development of external factors; especially concerning technology. It often blocks them from seeing (becoming aware) of their own potential. You will have trouble changing something you do not consider “broken”. You are your own best creation and can mould yourself successfully by adjusting a few simple steps.

In this case, it will be regarding romance. When we have broken hearts, we commonly are expected and tend to do a few things.

– Try to distract ourselves from the hurt

– Desperately hold onto something that was already done

– Wallow and get depressed

– Alcohol. Lots of it to forget.

Recommended article: A happy whirlwind of singledom and self searching

At the end of this article, I hope we can grasp why we need to try all of these within our own comfort zone. I have noticed that the moment I diverge from the stages of grief, I end up not truly “getting over” someone or a situation. You tend to want to avoid being in limbo, considering it makes us feel trapped rather than free. This article may be more relatable to women considering I am one and deal with break ups accordingly but I think it has some food for thought for everyone.

One of the most essential things to remember is that when we experience loss, we need to go through the five stages of grief. I know these are typically associated with death of a loved one, but it actually applies to all losses. Sometimes we even leave part of our own personalities which allows us to evolve like a phoenix from the ashes of our former self. The story behind Tarot is an excellent example of this (will be covered in another article).

Back to the stages of grief. There are five stages total which consist of Denial/Isolation *refusing to believe it*, Anger *trying to fight it*, Negotiating *trying to find middle ground*, Depression *Grieving the loss* and ultimately, Acceptance. The stages can vary in occurrence per situation, all except Acceptance. That is the stage when we understand our past, how it lead us to this point, our points of improvement and we are at peace with the situation. Often, this will lead to a feeling of freedom and happiness.

1. Denial/Isolation in regards to heartbreak/ache would be:

– Denying the reality of the situation; acting like everything is the same

– Try to distract ourselves from the hurt; party, socializing, gym, etc.

– Desperately hold onto something that was already done

How to embrace the stage:

This is not really a stage you can actively embrace as much as the rest. Being in denial is something that comes out of your subconscious to avoid pain. What you can do is try to get some time on your own to be isolated from the situation. Another thing is to be aware of the feelings you are experiencing and the reason why you are. Try to observe the situation from a more objective standpoint to get some clarity.

Why we need this stage:

First reactions are rash and often take form by denial or trying to distract ourselves from the reality. It is a temporary reaction to deal with the pain and will come naturally to most. It is often a time when people insist that they are not broken up or refuse to let the other person break up with them. At other times it activates an autopilot mechanism where the person reacts almost robotically.

2. Anger in regards to heartbreak/ache would be:

– You feel you get angry for no reason at people around you

– You are aware of what happened but don’t feel ready to process the sadness yet

– Angry at the world for letting this happen to you (the “why me” mentality)

How to embrace the stage:

I think the most important here is to remember that it is alright to be upset and it is also alright to be angry. It is a way to show that you have been hurt and are upset. Try not to be angry at the world or everyone around you. Channel your anger to that person by possibly using your creative outlets or maybe you can burn a picture of theirs. Take up boxing to get out some aggression or talk it out with your friends. Now is not the time to be rash and inflict damage, it is a time to get your frustrations out without inflicting chaos and destruction.

Why we need this stage:

Finally, we are aware of what has happened and the pain is prevailing through the denial/isolation. Instead of dealing with the loss’ sadness, we use anger as a dealing mechanism. It allows us to get our frustration and need to fight what is happening out. How you handle this stage can have a significant impact on your relationships with people around you, therefore it is important to try and control it as much as you can.

3. Negotiating/Bargaining in regards to heartbreak/ache would be:

– Tired of feeling helpless and vulnerable you want to regain control

– If only… (I had done better, I had listened more, the situation was different, etc..)

– Try to get back together with that person or meet them “half-way”

How to embrace the stage:

Try to stay within reason and don’t give yourself all the blame. Instead of pointing fingers, try to understand that the reason it happened is usually a combination of factors. Instead of fighting the change, try to come to terms with the fact that things have changed.

Why we need this stage:

We need to reach this stage so that we can begin to understand that something has happened which has consequences and had a profound effect on us. People have a tendency to want to assign blame to a guilty party – often refusing to blame themselves. Those who do blame themselves, blame themselves worse than they ever would to another person. It is time to realize that blaming people will not change the situation, the relationship/dating has ended. Coming to terms with the ending will allow people to proceed to the next stage.

4. Depression in regards to heartbreak/ache would be:

– Wallowing

– Crying your eyes out

– Living in excess of alcohol, food, shopping or something similar

How to embrace the stage:

Be careful, people have a habit of eating or drinking their problems away. In fact, emotional eating is one of the largest creators of obesity. Both of these excesses are equivalent to putting a bandage over a second degree burn. The bandaid doesn’t heal the burn, it merely covers it up for a while. Time is the true healer.

What is important during this phase is to grieve your loss. One of the better ways to go about it is to allow yourself to be truly and deeply sad. Sadness allows us to question ourselves and see the beauty of the times when we are happy. I try to let myself cry when I feel like it until I have no more tears left, watch sad movies to activate the crying (a great way to relief stress and pent up emotions) and try to channel my creative outputs. In my case that is poetry but this could also be writing, drawing, painting, dancing, singing and numerous other ways.

Why we need this stage:

This is the moment we realize that it is out of our hands and begin to let go. We truly mourn because we have accepted the truth now. This is us dealing with our emotions instead of avoiding them. It will be difficult processing the raw emotions and it can be a stage that lasts for an undetermined time. The more important someone was to you, the harder it is to truly let go. The more you try to fight this stage, the longer it will last to get “over” someone, since you are denying yourself the ability to grieve your loss. I often hear things like “he/she is not worth my tears”, which often comes from a place of hurt or anger. Crying and being melancholic isn’t a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you are dealing with the hurt you have received by healing emotionally.

5. Acceptance in regards to heartbreak/ache would be:

– You feel “over” the person, sometimes even indifferent

– No longer seeking them out or trying to fix it

– You have accepted that you are not “meant to be” and closed the door.

– You feel serene and peaceful with the decision

How to embrace the stage: 

Work on your mindfulness by being in the moment. It is difficult to explain how to embrace it when it is rather self explanatory. You will feel at peace after all the unsettled emotions.

Why we need this stage:

Well, to ultimately be at peace with the situation. This stage is vital in order to be able to truly love deeply again.

Acceptance can take years, depending on the person and their ability to process their emotions. Some people will insist one skipping the steps of getting over a heartache/break. A term that comes to mind is the “getting over someone by getting under someone else”. Starting a new relationship may help fill the void of the last person, however, it will not help you deal with the remaining emotions of your previous heartache/heartbreak. Being with someone new is not to be confused with acceptance. Instead it will possibly leave you with unresolved emotions, possibly holding a torch for someone much longer than you would have liked…

Recommended article: A happy whirlwind of singledom and self searching

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