Suzanne Lachmann Psy.D.
The 9 Stages of Grieving a Breakup No. 1: Shock
Grieving a breakup: Shock is a primal response to a sophisticated loss.
Posted Jan 19, 2015
In the coming weeks, I am going to introduce some of my expanded impressions of these stages. Now there are nine. These stages aren't linear in progression. They don’t necessarily present "in order,” nor is it apparent when one stage ends and another begins. Your stages will switch around often. They may occur all at once, cross over each other, or morph into indistinguishable emotional blobs. You may have no idea what stage you’re in. You may feel stuck for months in one stage. You may cycle forward and backward through stages at warp speed…while in slow motion. You may repeat them many times in many forms along the way. But you will have moments of hopefulness and clarity in between the waves of fear, shame, unworthiness, and despair, and those moments will help you along in the process.
My goal is to help you get your bearings and offer you a rough roadmap through the rocky, unpredictable in-breakup terrain. While you may not be able to see through your pain right now, know that a path forward does exist. Here is the first of the 9 Stages of Grieving a Breakup, shock. Tomorrow you can look forward to denial...
“Huh? What do you mean, it’s over?” This new information overloads your brain. The concept that you have become disposable, replaceable, and irrelevant shoots through you in spasms. It's as if your identity was just stolen and you don't know where to go or what to do with yourself to retrieve it. Not only have you lost track of yourself, but you feel lost and un-tracked in the world. You are overwhelmed by the dread of having to exist without your ex's continued investment in your whereabouts and your security, without knowledge about your ex's emotions and everyday life. It’s as if you're plunging into an abyss of anonymity.
Shock is a primal response to a sophisticated loss. It's the result of being inundated on all levels – all five of your senses overload while questions you can't answer rain down on you, to the point at which you just short-circuit. There's the logistical, like "How will I pull it together for work tomorrow?" To the existential: "What's the point? Maybe it’s all been in vain..." Yet, despite the shock, there are immediate decisions to be made and real world obligations to manage. You feel numb, spacey, and unfocused, so your autopilot function takes over to help you get through what you have to get through. That's your survival instinct kicking into gear.
Stay tuned as we wade through the next 8 stages of grief over the next 8 days, and help you orient to where you are in your grieving process.