Today I want to talk about loss of relationships, whether it’s as lovers, friendship, or even family members such as sibling or parent and the individual is still very much alive and well.
How do you deal with such a loss? Does the process of grief still apply?
When someone is taken away from us, suddenly or through illness we have to at some point accept that death is final. Regardless of what your beliefs may be, the connection, the face to face contact, the ability to be present physically by the other is no longer possible.
But when someone who you have formed a relationship with, an attachment to, decides to leave your life. Then why are we expected to continue like nothing has happened?
It is my personal opinion that the grief cycle still applies which isn’t a linear process, in fact you may move from one stage to the next, to the fifth and then back to the first. Let me explain what I mean.
In the grief cycle we have: Denial, Anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance.
Denial: we cannot believe that the person is gone, our reality has shifted and as we try to process the loss, we are trying to process the emotional pain.
If someone has made a conscious decision to leave your life or even you have had to decide to leave, you can still experience denial. You don’t want to accept that the person you know doesn’t want to be in your life or you no longer want to see them, you will experience emotional pain and maybe some form of rejection if you don’t have a choice in the matter.
“How can he/she do this to me?”
Anger: Feeling anger is a natural response when you are feeling emotional discomfort. Trying to adjust with this new reality can be difficult. Feeling anger towards the individual, at yourself, your emotions, is normal because you feel alone in your pain.
“He/She promised they would never leave!”
Bargaining: In an attempt to alleviate your pain. In the grief cycle we tend to bargain with a higher power. But what can happen in a loss of a relationship is that we can start bargaining with the individual.
“What did I do wrong?” Blaming yourself, “Tell me what can I do to keep you in my life?” Any form of contact is better than none, and we start bargaining.”Can we still be friends?” The slither of hope that any contact is better than none and you are trying to stop the pain you are going through.
“Can we stay in touch?”
Depression: Reality sinks in. Bargaining is not an option anymore and we have to face what is happening. As sadness grows we can end up retreating into ourselves. Not wanting to be sociable, not reaching out to anyone.
We isolate ourselves because no one else will understand the pain we are experiencing. Friends and family may advise you to move on. But how easy is it? Should you not be allowed to feel the way you are? why is there an expectation that you should stop feeling how you are and “pull yourself together!”?
“Get over it!”
Acceptance: Here you are accepting your new reality. Sadness and regret may still be present but now you accept the pain you are feeling. Acceptance that the relationship has ended can be difficult. You may have put your heart and soul in that relationship and you are now accepting the loss but you also are now attempting to heal.
“I need to find the new me.”
You are not attempting to make it into something different or change the out come any longer.
The complication with someone still being alive is that at times of vulnerability, we might end up revisiting the different stages of grief. We might go back to bargaining or anger because well we can. The person is still alive and can still respond. Maybe we still feel the attachment to that individual and we still want to be a part of their lives and are seeking old comfort. This can just lead to more hurt and pain. Constantly feeling rejected can damage your self confidence and self esteem.
The loss of a relationship is different and I am not comparing it to bereavement because I have felt both and I feel each has their own pain and sorrow to bear. But it also has me wondering about the differences in the way people can respond to such loss.
I also feel and this is my personal opinion that loss of a relationship doesn’t get enough support, as it requires a process of healing that we should be able to go through without judgement, remarks and intolerance by others.
Does ego play a part with how we respond? I still find myself bargaining at times hoping for a different outcome. What about you?