Stages of grief. Moving on after a bad relationship.

stages of grief

Nothing can make you feel better and you feel stuck in a bad situation. How you should deal with grief and how to recognize the stages of grief. Making sure you are ready to move on after a bad relationship or experience.


Dear Jim: How do I know that I am ready to move on with life and make healthier choices (or why do I feel stuck)?

There is a process ( Stages of grief ) that we ALL must go through as we move from one point in life to another. It has to occur every time we experience a change/loss in our life. It does not matter whether it is losing our favorite toy, our job or a relationship. After my divorce, I had no idea what I was “going through” – just that I was loss in some sort of process. It was not until I learned the Stages of grief or the Steps in Loss (Grieving) that I was able to see/feel what was happening. The following chart helped me to find where I was in my process and gave me hope that I could move through it. Let me show the chart and then give a brief explanation as I understand the steps:

Flow Stages Of Grief

The flow of the Stages of grief chart is on purpose. The items on the left are ones which tear us down and drain us. I suggest that depression “can” be a good sign if it is not a chemical deficiency. It is the point when we realize that we cannot make others change and the idea begins to surface that it is us that must change. But let me start at the beginning:

Stages of Grief: The Grieving Chart:

      1. DENIAL: One finds themselves shocked by what is taking place (usually as a result of another). They refuse to accept the reality of the situation and choose to deny it so that they do not have to deal with it. Sometimes this denial is conscious and sometimes subconscious.
      2. LONELINESS: The feeling of being abandoned surfaces when we begin to move out of denial and seek to face it. Someone or something that we cherished and was of value is no longer in our world. We will take a lot of actions to offset this feeling of abandonment and singles OFTEN make choices in this stage that really complicate their lives. Please see a blog post about Single and Lonely.
      3. BARGAINING: Not fully understanding the loss, we are ready to bargain to change the impact on us. We say that we will do this or that, or we can change to something (even something we are not and could never be) in an effort to restore the loss. But bargaining is too often OUR contribution and does not work because it is not created in a healthy balance.
      4. DEPRESSION: Please understand that there are medical/chemical reasons for depression. I would go so far as to state that if one finds themselves in a stage of depression for more than a few days at a time, they should seek the counsel of a medical doctor or licensed counselor. But for most of us, depression is that stage of accepting the reality that what has happened to us is not going to change – and there is little or nothing we can do to make it change. It is a feeling of helplessness – not wanting to get up in the morning or not wanting to get on with life’s activities. But I suggest that it is a stage that we can move through – especially with God’s help.
      5. ANGER: Now we are facing reality and we do NOT like it!!! We find ourselves angry with the other party, ourselves AND often God. Why did HE let this happen? He is the God of the universe and I am His child – what is He doing – asleep at the wheel???!! Actually for moving through this process, anger is a good sign. It means you care! I suggest that you seek the source of your anger as a true revelation of the source will often in itself dissipate the anger. Angry at God? Tell Him so – He can take it. Listen to Him through His Word and His Spirit. I believe that you will discover as I and so many others have, that He was NOT the cause of your loss, BUT is the way to restoration.
      6. ACCEPTANCE: When we finally genuinely accept what has happened to us, we are ready to move on with life AND make healthier choices. I am not saying that we like what happened to us. This stage of grief will involve forgiveness of any other party involved in your loss. Another article will deal with forgiveness but suffice it to say in this stage you are able to not expect the other party to do anything for YOUR restoration to joy and peace. You can be filled with HOPE as you move on with life to discover what joys God has in store for you.

Where to find help and how should you feel

Are YOU through your process (stages of grief) to enable you to make healthier choices? I can share with you that it is a great victory and the release you will feel is awesome. Nothing that happens to you – whether you caused it or someone else – is beyond repair for you and God. I encourage you to find a DivorceCare group, if this is the process you are in, or a healthy group in a local church for added encouragement and support.

“Make the right choice to MOVE forward!!”

In His love and mine,
Dr. Jim

1 Corinthians 10:13;
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Psalms 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

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2 comments on “Stages of grief. Moving on after a bad relationship.Add yours →

  1. Didn’t work like that for me.
    2, 3, 4 and 5 often mix. Sometimes I still feel upset about it.
    The last stage hasn’t set in yet, or if it did, it wasn’t very long before stage 2 to 5 kicked back in gear.

  2. Though I understand what the ‘stages of grief’ are meant to do…in my experience, it isn’t as ‘cut and dry’ as this. The steps are real, but the linear nature is not nor should it be what we pursue. Grief isn’t linear, nor is life – grief often feels much more like a maze. Hope this brings hope…

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