Breakup: The 5 stages of Grief

Rejection is harder to accept than death... sometimes! Meet the 5 stages of grief.
By Lee W
(7 minutes read)

Breaking up with somebody can sometimes be more painful than if the person died!

Why? Rejection is a b*tch – and is harder to accept sometimes.

There’s a thing which psychologists call the 5 Stages of Grief – which are essentially the phases or stages we go through when we lose someone. Whilst not entirely true, you can still use them as a guide to help you understand your emotions during this sh*t time.

So, here’s what you’re up against…

Five Stages of Grief

Stage #1. Denial

In the initial stages, shock will try to prevent you from facing reality by convincing you it’s not over. It’s your mind’s way of trying to numb the pain.

Stage #2. Bargaining

You will do ANYTHING to avoid accepting it’s over and become needy, desperate and weak.

Stage #3. Anger

As reality starts to kick in, you’re likely going to get really p*ssed off and probably say some nasty things and perhaps break a thing or two. You might start demanding answers too.

Stage #4. Depression

After dipping in and out of stages 2 and 3 (bargaining and anger) you will eventually crash. You will start to feel hopeless and may even question your very existence. 

Stage #5. Acceptance

Well done, you made it. It’s time to rebuild your life and move on. Sounds cringe but you will now be stronger and better equipped for the next time (and yes, there will be a next time, haha). 

Speedy Recovery: Dealing with the 5 Stages of grief

Remember the goal is to recover as fast as possible, which means getting through the “5 Stages of Grief” as smoothly as possible. But it’s important you “feel the pain” (something a Neuroscientist called Martin convinced me of during a dinner debate).

Anyway, here’s my breakdown of how I tackle each stage (and why it works for me).

Stage #1. Denial

Cry your heart out and do not hold back. We live to feel, and pain is part of that experience (thanks Martin).

If you’re anything like I was at first, and feel ashamed to cry… you might need a push, so try watch a sad movie (alone) or stick on a soppy playlist, perhaps light some candles and relax in the bath or anything to make you feel emosh. Yeah, it’s gay but it’s good for you so do it.

The goal is to break, as it will relieve some pressure. Bottling up feelings can be dangerous and will only delay the recovery so find a way to cry and let it out. 

Films that break me every time: Marley And Me, Forest Gump, Green Mile, War Horse and Fault Within Our Stars.

Other things that have made me cry in the past: Small dose of psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms), Ayahuasca and The Streets classic: Dry Your Eyes Mate.

Stage #2. Bargaining

Begging for somebody to come back is a BIG mistake.

Guilt often surfaces more than it should during this stage so try not to fall for it.

Too many clueless lads fail hard by sending their ex flowers or promising to be something they’re not. This will only make you appear needy, weak and ultimately less attractive – so don’t be that guy.

Oh and grovelling apologies will not win her back either.

If you ended on bad terms and want to say sorry for something you did, that’s fine, but don’t bombard her with questions (or send abuse). 

One clear message, state whatever you feel is important and then stop.

Tip: My mate Shane used to send his beggy texts to me instead of his ex during his breakup stage to save him caving in. He swears it made him feel tons better, so consider messaging a friend or me (lee@ladsholidayguide.com) if you want to give that a try.

Stage #3. Anger

Which is where meditation comes in. 

Headspace is a perfect place to start for beginners and people like me who aren’t patient.

Focussing on the breath is key and can take you from boiling red to calm in a matter of minutes.

Trick is to close you eyes and focus on breathing. Any thoughts (i.e. everything related to your ex) imagine are balloons, that float away. Weird but try some meditations if you haven’t already. They’re great for your mind and we should all be meditating anyway (very healthy).

I also find sports like football, boxing and badminton good outlets – plus they prevent me from wanting to smash things in my house so much.

Btw, it’s important not to blame yourself as hard as that may be. Even if you did something wrong, that’s okay. 

Remember, what’s done is done and even if it was your fault, life is full of lessons, learn from this and move on. 

Reflect, don’t react. You will have learned from this and will now be a better person now than you were before so be thankful, not angry.

Stage #4. Depression

Once you’ve finished bouncing between Stages 1, 2 and 3 – it’s time to really face the pain.

If you’re not careful, depression can last months or even years – especially if you hold on to false hope. It’s why the sooner you commit to closure the faster you will move on and less you’ll stretch out the pain.

Depression affects us all very differently so while it’s impossible to give a one size fits all solution, I can list some things which helped me:

DO NOT

  • Keep reminders of your ex in sight.
  • Try to Seek revenge
  • Plan to win her back
  • Try to meet up with her
  • Check her social media
  • Contact her or her friends
  • Blame yourself
  • Binge on drugs, bad food or alcohol
  • Starve yourself
  • Shut yourself away

DO

  • Accept it’s over
  • Stay active / exercise (boosts serotonin and chemicals in brain which help mood)
  • Socialise with friends / keep busy
  • Write a diary or email
  • Talk about your feelings
  • Try new things
  • Clean up your house
  • Set new goals and challenges
  • Spend time with new women
  • Learn new skills
  • Eat healthy
  • *Use Classical Conditioning (we’ll cover this proper in the next chapter)
  • Learn to accept the pain
  • Surround yourself in nature a bit (go for little treks)
  • Learn to breathe properly / meditate (Headspace app)
  • Note: I know during this stage a lot of the above might seem hard at first, but try as many as you can, they help.
  • Talk to people though, don’t bottle it up and lock yourself away, as that’s dangerous. 

Stage #5. Acceptance

Well done, you made it past the hard bit and can accept that it’s over. Now it’s time to start thriving.

Work on yourself harder than ever. Learn to love yourself, and start upskilling in different areas. 

During this stage is when you can literally transform yourself into the best version of you. 

I’ve had 3 extremely painful breakups and following each one I’ve come out soooo much better for it at the end.

Decide who and what you want to be in a year’s time. Set some micro-goals and get to work. 

Pain is quite possibly the best motivator of all if used properly, so you need to bend this negative energy into positive energy and become awesome. 

Feel free to drop me a message during any stage of this… Just know, you’re not alone! 

Here’s another short article you might find helpful.

https://www.lads.guide/learn/how-to-get-over-someone/