Lately I have been counseling a gentleman that has been going through a tough break-up. He is very distraught and can’t seem to move on even though his ex already has. As I have been talking to him it has become very clear to me that he is going through the five stages of grief. A break up can be a lot like a death, especially the longer you have been together. I see it all the time, and it looks something like this:
Denial: Late again? So many late nights at the office. And now weekends too? He says he’s working all of these extra hours so he can save for a nice vacation for the family. He’s such a great husband. Although I might have to mention to him that the new cologne he’s wearing is a bit feminine for my taste. Although, could it be possible… no he would never do that. He wouldn’t leave me. He loves me too much. He’ll be back I know it. He promised me he would always be there for me, he would never break that promise.
Anger: Well he was saving for a great vacation alright, but apparently it was with his “new” family. How stupid was I to think he was talking about this family! I can’t wait to go to this woman’s house and let her have it, and make sure her kids know what a tramp their mom is as well. I’m guessing he won’t need all these clothes I’m about to donate as well since he couldn’t manage to keep them on anyway. What a jerk, after all the great years I’ve given him, I was nothing but the perfect wife, and now this. He will regret this, I’ll see to that.
Bargaining: OK God, if you can just help me fix this. He really is a good man, just a little lost right now and so am I. If I can get some help down here I promise to go to church more often and be a better person, I will do whatever, just please don’t let him leave, I don’t want to be alone. I can’t.
Depression: Well he’s gone, now what. What’s left for me. No need to get up and get dressed, no need to shower and put on make-up, who cares anymore. I’ll just sit in bed and eat ice cream and watch Jerry Springer. This is what I deserve. To be alone. Be by my loser self. Who cares, the kids are even too busy for me. They prefer to be with their dad anyway. Why am I even here? No one loves me and probably never will again. How much longer do I have to be alive? Would anybody even care anyway?
Acceptance: Well it seems as though he has moved on and here I sit. What am I doing with my life? Sitting here mourning a dead marriage. Where in the hell is this getting me? At this point only to Target to buy some new clothes with some stretchy waistbands because of all the weight I’ve gained. Is this me? Is this really who I am? No. I was my own person when I got into this marriage and I must go back and find that person now. I will wear my independence like a badge of honor, a medal of freedom and a purple heart. It is time for me to get up, get dressed and move on. I may not always feel like it but what choice do I have? Life is moving on without me. And who knows, maybe I will even find love again. It is time to bury the past and live my future.
“Grief is itself a medicine”. – William Cowper, Charity