Death of a spouse or breakup of a marriage or long-term relationship can trigger similar responses in a person. Each person mourns a loss differently. However, there are 5 common stages of grief a person goes through when mourning the loss of a relationship. These were adapted from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, “On Death and Dying.”
You may not experience these stages in one fluid order. You may go through some of the stages more than once. Sometimes an event will trigger you to experience one of these stages again. For instance, cleaning out the basement and finding an old shirt of your deceased spouse or hearing your ex-partner is to remarry might cause reoccurrence of certain stages. The five stages of grief are:
1. Denial – The “No, not me” stage.
This stage is filled with disbelief and denial. If your partner has died you still expect him to walk through the door. If your partner has asked for a break-up you think that she will change her mind.
2.Anger/Resentment – The “Why me?” stage.
Anger at the situation, your partner and others are common. You are angry with the other person for causing the situation and for causing you pain. You might feel anger at your deceased partner for dying. You may feel anger at your partner for asking for a divorce and breaking up the family.
3. Bargaining – The “If I do this, you’ll do that” stage.
You try to negotiate to change the situation. If you’ve lost a spouse to death you might bargain with God, “I’ll be a better person if you’d just bring him back”. You might approach your partner who is asking for the break-up and say “If you’ll stay I’ll change”.
4. Depression- The “It’s really happened” stage.
You realize the situation isn’t going to change. The death or break-up happened and there is nothing to bring the other person back. Acknowledgement of the situation often bring depression. This could be a quiet, withdrawn time as you soak in the situation.
5. Acceptance – The “This is what happened” stage.
Though you haven’t forgotten what happened you are able to begin to move forward.
Suggestions when you find yourself suddenly single
Avoid long term legal decisions. If you are in an emotional state its better to put off long term legal decisions until your thinking is less cloudy.
Drive carefully. It’s easy to become distracted when you are grieving so use care when you get behind the wheel.
Seek support for your kids and yourself. Your kids are grieving along with you and will need support. It might be wise at this point to have separate grief sessions apart from your children if you’re experiencing anger and resentment.
Maintain rituals. The children most likely will feel insecure and abandoned at first. Maintaining the same patterns of holidays, birthdays, Saturday outings, etc. will give them a sense of normalcy and consistency.
Nurture yourself. You need to care for your spiritual, emotional and physical health. No one else will do it but you. Take care of yourself as well as you take care of your child. Eat healthy, exercise and take vitamins. Allow yourself to grieve and give yourself as much time as you need to adjust to what has happened.
The information is free to reprint in any format provided the information at the bottom, including this, remains intact. Reprinted with permission from Single Parent Central, which offered information and resources to single parent families.
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