Relationship breakdowns whether it be with your husband/wife, partner, colleague, friend or family member can often be difficult to come to terms with. Especially if the decline in the relationship has been drawn out or has happened very suddenly. We are often faced with a sense of shock, anger, terror, anxiety and confusion. You may be overwhelmed with new decisions you need to make, at a time when it feels foggy and unclear to you.
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Dealing with the aftermath of a relationship breakdown can be likened to grieving. Grieving is not only about losing someone who has passed away but it is also about grieving for the loss of our previous lives and relationships. What is also very important is that you get as much support as you can from other friends and family and to look after yourself the best you can during this difficult time. There are several stages to grieving which is a normal healing process. Research over the years has identified at least five stages to the grieving process.
Denial or numbness
This can happen if the relationship breakdown is sudden, or may occur in the early stages of a relationship breakdown. You may appear unaffected, numb or have a “I don’t care attitude”, dependent upon your situation this can last days, weeks or even years in some cases. It’s the mind and bodies way of protecting you from becoming too overwhelmed with painful emotions.
Most people who have experienced a relationship breakdown will experience some anger whether it is at themselves or at another person who is involved. You may be angry at someone or something else that is not connected to your situation, leaving you feeling confused. Either way, anger is an important part of the healing process and it can help to avoid being overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.
This can be where you become preoccupied with thoughts such as what I should or could have done differently. The preoccupation of thoughts can help to distract from and keep powerful feelings away and may also help to draw some learning from the situation.
At some stage you may experience some symptoms of depression, feeling low, tearful, or lacking in energy to name but a few. This is where your body and mind is getting you to slow down in order to process the difficult emotions and to help you to adjust to your new reality.
At some point you will be able to integrate what has happened into your life story. People sometimes describe it as learning to live with the loss, where you still continue to miss the person but at the same time feel more able to cope in the world.