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STAGES OF LOSS

The stages of loss

The stages of loss are not necessarily experienced in a linear way, sometimes you might feel that you are taking one step forward and two steps back. The feelings you might experience whether mild or intense are all a normal part of divorce & separation. If however if you feel that you've been “stuck” at a particular point for some time you might want to consider seeing a counsellor to help you through the process. Shock & Denial Realising that your relationship has broken down can leave you in a state of shock. You could become absent minded and feel that this isn't really happening to you. Fear of facing the future alone can be one factor that contributes to denial, facing your fears can seem like too much to bear. You may feel a wild jumble of emotions and have rapid mood changes. You could swing wildly from feeling numb and not being able to talk, to feeling out of control emotionally and perhaps needing to scream and shout. You might also feel that your emotions are raw and on the surface and that everyone “knows” about the situation. You may experience a feeling of detachment, of being in a daze, as though you are watching a movie; have feelings of panic and anxiety and a compulsion to do something. This can often take the form of throwing yourself into work or anything practical. Anger Anger can be explosive, hence the expression “fired with anger”. You can swing from feeling hatred and revenge to feeling sad and insecure; the depth of these feelings can be frightening. If you have decided to leave the relationship, you might find it difficult to express your anger because you feel guilty. If you have been left, you might find it difficult to express anger for fear of pushing the other person further away. Anger can often precede the process of letting go; trying to redirect your anger by doing practical things can help. It isn't healthy to bottle it up or express it aggressively. You can express anger in a healthy way by talking to friends or family, using exercise or by talking to a counsellor. Keeping anger bottled up can lead to depression. Depression Feelings of loneliness, sadness or depression are a normal response to this difficult time. The feelings of sorrow and loss of your relationship and all that means to you can be difficult to bear. You might also have sleep problems and feel emotionally drained. Because personal identities are tied up in relationships, it can be difficult to imagine yourself as a whole and separate person. Self esteem can be low making it difficult to do everyday things. You might feel like crying most of the time. If you feel this way and can't quite get the tears out, you could try watching a sad movie to help you express your feelings. If the feelings of depression won't go away or get worse you may need to speak to your doctor or a counsellor.BargainingMany people fantasise that they see or hear the voice of their former partner. You may find yourself wanting to strike a bargain with your ex-partner to try desperately to make things as they were before or to make the pain go away. This is not a good time to make deals. You may make impossible promises and make things even worse. Understanding & Acceptance For some people this stage can mark the beginning of a new life with new choices, for others it can be a bit of an anti-climax. Relationships can settle down although it is also possible that problems to do with children may erupt periodically. All of these feelings can be overwhelming, and you might feel like you are going crazy, it is better to acknowledge these feelings and accept that they are a part of a painful process. Don't expect to go through the stages one by one. It is more likely that you'll jump from one to the other, often in the space of a few minutes! Understanding the stages won't make the pain go away, but might help you realise that this is a normal process that other people go through as well.

 

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