By Sylvia Smith

Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at…

What Are the Stages of Grief in a Relationship Break-up

It’s a sad fact of life that a lot of relationships fail and forced to go through some unavoidable stages of grief in a relationship.

Even if both partners follow all the “secret ingredient” and “special formula” from love and guru experts, there’s always something that breaks the couple apart if it’s not meant to be.

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of marriages in the US end in divorce.

That’s half the marriages, and considering that 90% of people marry by the age of 50, we are talking about hundreds of millions of people in the USA alone.

How does one deal with the grief of losing the person they love? Are there stages of grief in a relationship to see their progress is moving forward?

You can be thronged by many more questions like – Is it true that time heals all wounds? How much time does it take to get over the stages of grief in a relationship? When will the hurting end?

Luckily there is such a pattern. The stages of grief and loss apply to most relationship cases.

There is a study by a Swiss-American Psychiatrist and writer, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She wrote five stages of grief in a relationship, that apply to most people experienced by terminally-ill patients before death.

All other grieving processes are based on the Kubler-Ross model.


This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In the Kubler-Ross stages of grief in a relationship, it is the first instinctive reaction. It can last for a few seconds to a few years.

When an individual receives shocking news, it will take time before their brain and emotion can process it.

The denial stage is simple, it is just based on shock and self-justification. People think about what they have done to deserve such a misfortune. 

Some people are aware of the situation brewing for some time, but for some, it comes as a complete surprise.

Regardless, whether you are completely shocked, it’s something expected, or somewhere in the middle, the sooner you accept what is happening to the relationship is real and not just a bad nightmare, the sooner you can move on to the stage of mourning.


Kubler-Ross believes that this is a necessary stage in the phases of grief and recovery. However, later studies on stages of grief in a relationship consider it optional.

Depending on how you are aware of the situation developing, a lot of people need not go through this stage of anger. It is especially true if you are aware of your own faults in the relationship.

People with strong personalities will spend a long time at this stage. They will refuse to accept the situation as is and will fight or blame other people for the breakup.

It is a case of strength is weakness and weakness is strength. A lot of people never get over this stage. It becomes a cycle of grief, anger, even revenge until the end of their lives.

Here are some tips on how to deal with the pain and anger and move on.

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The moment the breakup is accepted, the person suffering from loss will turn to anything, including religion, other supernatural powers, even their enemies to ask for a resolution.

They are doing this to get rid of the pain. The moment you find yourself cursing and begging God, you have passed the point of anger and have reached the bargaining phase in the stages of grief in a relationship.

In the stages of grief breakup, it is common that a person will bargain with their ex in an attempt for reconciliation. Depending on the sincerity of both parties, it is possible to kiss and make up at this stage.

Here are some tips that could help you and your partner during these trying times if you wish for reconciliation.



When things fall apart, and all else fails. Hopelessness will lead to depression. It can be a temporary case or a clinical depression that could last a lifetime.

This is a precarious time and the most sensitive point in the stages of grief in a relationship. Suicides are common at this point in time. It is necessary to have an active support group when a person is depressed.

If you need more help to deal with stages of grief in a relationship, professional therapists, counselors, or psychiatrists can lend a hand for more formal treatment.

It’s important never to leave a grieving person alone during the depression stage. They would say they want to be alone, remember that it isn’t true.

They are just too ashamed to face anyone at the moment, but they are dying for company. Figure out a way to break the wall.


Acceptance, genuine acceptance, comes after the entire roller-coaster of emotions associated with loss through a relationship breakup. At this point, everyone should expect changes in personality.

For better or for worse, they learned a valuable lesson in love and relationships. How that lesson manifests, positively or negatively depends on the person’s base morality and principles.

Time heals all wounds.

The pain is still there, but it is no longer debilitating pain, the person has recovered enough to continue with their day-to-day activities. If something triggers the memory of their broken relationship, that’s all it becomes- a bitter-sweet memory.

At this point, the person is ready to fall in love again. Taking the lessons learned from their previous relationship to make the new one stronger.

So how long does the grief last?

It depends from person to person. It can last for a few weeks to forever. It’s a matter of will to move from one stage to another.

If you are thinking about what are the stages of grief that can last a long time, honestly, it depends on you!

The stages of grief in a relationship are just a pattern that a brilliant psychologist observed.

 You don’t have to follow it step by step like a recipe. It’s possible to skip the denial, anger, bargaining, or depression stage.

 It’s also possible to stay there for the rest of your life. Knowing where you are and what you are doing allows you to move forward. Only when you reach true acceptance, you can be healed.

Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?

If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.

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Sylvia Smith

Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. By taking purposeful and a whole-hearted action, Sylvia feels that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one.

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