The 5 Stages of Grief

Jul 10, 2023
5 Stages of Grief

In this blog I want to talk about grief relating to heartbreak.  Something that I have had to work through personally after going through a divorce.  I had been married only 1.5 years but we had been together for 10 years and I met my ex when I was 23.  The grief is still with me 3.5 years on, we still share a dog, but I have learnt so much about grief and all its different edges that I wanted to share some thoughts that I hope will be helpful.


What is grief?


Grief is a response to loss.  It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something is taken away from you.  Grief can knock you sideways and cause you to feel overwhelming feelings of sadness, despair, shock, anger, guilt, pain, resentment, confusion, and utter disbelief.  Grief can get you to question absolutely everything you know about your life and what you had previously believed to have been true.  As someone who truly believed that marriage meant “forever”, the prospect of divorce got me questioning the very essence of my being and questioning the world and everyone around me.


We all have different ways of dealing with grief.  For some it might be working really hard and distracting themselves, for some it’s alcohol and drugs, for some it’s shutting themselves away in a room.  Grief is both a universal and personal experience.  Grief can make you feel like you are totally out of control.  Grief tends to, over time, become less painful and have less of a hold on us as we re-adapt to life and learn a new way of living in the world.


When a relationship ends we experience grief.  It can feel as if that person has died for us.  There are many different layers to this.  We are not only grieving the loss of a person in our lives but also the loss of a dream, a hope, a future together.  We are grieving a sense of “what could have been.”  One of the most helpful things I learnt during this process was that grief is non-linear.  You are going to move forwards one day, and go backwards another.  You are going to be in denial one day, and anger the other.  Let’s talk about the different stages of grief.



5 stages of grief according to Elizabeth Kubler Ross 


  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance



This can include feeling numb, carrying on as if nothing has happened, believing you will get back together.  We can experience a total loss of self here doing anything and saying anything to get them back.


Things can feel desperately unfair, we may want to blame the other, we may even be angry at ourselves.  This can feel totally overwhelming and very painful.


This is where we go over and over things in our heads believing if we had just said something else or acted differently we might have had a different outcome.  It’s also where we believe that if we do certain things and try to control how we feel, we will feel better.  It’s the time when we think that perhaps we can have a friendship so we don’t loose the person altogether.


This is our stage of sadness.  We realise it’s over.  We realise we are going to have to pick ourselves up and live a new life.


You have pieced together what happened, you acknowledge the part you played in the breakup and you can accept what has happened.  This is the time you learn and grow from what has happened.   The pain might not totally be gone, but the pain is accepted.  Jillian Turecki talks about 5 stages of Acceptance:


The 5 Stages of Acceptance 

The first stage is to accept that you do not have control over the circumstance. 
The second is to accept that the relationship is over.
The third is to accept your part in the demise of your relationship.
The fourth is to accept yourself in spite of it not working.
The fifth is radical acceptance of the relationship’s purpose in your life. You can see it for a lesson, a necessary part of your emotional, spiritual, and psychological path towards maturity. 


Go Back to Basics


When we are in the immediate aftermath of a break up we need to go back to basics and choose things that nourish us.  Stay hydrated, exercise, listen to music, make your bed in the morning, brush your hair - these things might seem small but they make a huge impact.  Look after yourself, take care of your body, eat well, do the things you know bring you into a good place.  Moving your body is key - you move your body to get out of your head.  A short walk in nature is enough.  Nature is key as research shows it helps us bring perspective to our lives.  (I remember sitting for hours on the beach in Bali looking out to the horizon realising how small I was!  I remember this was the first time I had thought, no matter what happens everything will be ok.). If you are experiencing an overwhelm of thoughts, write them down.  Free flow writing - just get it all out on paper.  Spend time with people you feel safe with.  Don’t be afraid to say to them “I am just looking for you to listen, I don’t need advice right now.”  Reach out to a therapist / coach / mentor / role model… and if you don’t have these people in your life start to find them.  


Give back


One of the best things we can do when we are going through a break up is actually shift our focus to others who might need help.  It’s one of the best ways to get out of your head and build resilience.  It also gives you a sense of purpose at a time when it’s very much needed.  That could be something as simple as reaching out to a friend in need, volunteering, going to see someone elderly, offering to help strangers, joining a community rubbish pick up… whatever it is, look to others and see how you can be helpful to them.  This gives you so much more than you can imagine.  It’s a break in the endless rumination and critical thinking.




During the depression and acceptance stage we can start to get curious about what actually happened and we can take responsibility for our part.  Start asking yourself these questions:

What was I craving that I didn’t communicate?

How can I do things differently in my next relationship?

Why did I behave in certain ways?

How did I contribute to the break down of the relationship?

Was I defensive?  Critical?  Shut down?  

Make a promise to yourself that you are going to learn the things you need to for your next relationship.



Unearthing old wounds


Some break ups can unearth older wounds.  Some break ups trigger pain that we have been carrying deeply over a long time.  Some break ups show us where we need to heal on a much deeper level.  For example, if you are someone who always chooses partners where you feel you have to earn their love, then perhaps the wound that needs to be healed is the fact that you felt as a child that you had to earn love.  Perhaps if you felt abandoned as a child, you self-sabotage your relationships for fear of abandonment.  So many of our deeper wounds play out in our adult relationships.

The thing is, the more our hearts are cracked open, the bigger the opportunity to change.  I now look at my divorce as a total spiritual awakening!  And the beauty is, so many breakups end up being a story of transformation and triumph.




One of the most imperative things we can do is to look at how our needs are being met. One of my break ups ended up feeling really not that hard!  I know this sounds harsh but one of the reasons I realised this had been less painful for me was because I had been meeting many of my own needs and I had a support network also helping me meet these needs.  Our main needs can be broken down to: fun & adventure, safety & security, growth, feeling significant & important, love & connection.  Meeting these needs really are the path to living a fulfilling & happy life.  Need help in understanding & meeting your needs?  We have a workbook to help you with this - it’s a downloadable & fillable workbook that will help you over the next 6 months.






Join our newsletter to receive self-worth tips, direct answers to your questions, personal stories, yoga classes, meditations and much more. 

Your information will not be shared & you can unsubscribe at any time.

Written By Sophie Dear


In 2015 I was signed off work due to insomnia and anxiety. I was incredibly stressed both physically & mentally and as a result I suffered from numerous health problems. I trained as a yoga teacher & began to heal myself through meditation & movement. However I soon burnt out for a second time 2 years into my teaching journey. Becoming a yoga teacher hadn’t magically transformed me - I realised I needed to do the deeper work!

Want to listen to my full story? Check out some of the podcast episodes I've been featured on.

Listen Here


Emotional Intelligence

What are Internal Goals?

What is Self-Worth?


Find out how to improve your level of self-worth so you can own your awesome and have fun doing it!

Take the Quiz