Grief doesn’t have to just be about dying. It’s common to grieve when a person dies. In fact when you think of the word “grief,” most likely you associate it with death, but grief is about the loss of any kind. When you break up with someone, lose a friend, go a divorce or anything that falls into the category of loss, you will also experience a period of grief and mourning. Going through a divorce is a time in life where human beings grieve and grief is not a linear process. During the grieving process, you will experience sadness, depression or both. Phases of grief generally are denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. It’s natural to have a hard time accepting that what you once had is gone. We have a difficult time with change as human beings. We get used to things being a certain way and have trouble when that changes. When we break up with someone, the routine and the day-to-day life activities we were once used to completely change. For example, if you were romantically involved with somebody, you’re used to kissing them. When you break up with that person you no longer have the ability to be physically intimate with them in the same way. The affection you receive changes and that’s painful.

This kind of change can be difficult and can lead to feelings of grief. The denial part of grieving can be hard to break through because we don’t want things to change. When we realize that things are shifting in our lives, we become angry and frustrated. We want to hold onto the way that things used to be rather than accepting that they are changing. After denial, we move into the bargaining phase where we are desperately clinging on to what once was and begging for it to stay. When you plead with someone to stay it’s not sexy. It will make them want to leave more. Confidence is key when you want to win someone back and pretending like you don’t care is the answer, unfortunately. It’s not easy to pretend anything including not caring but apparently, this is what we’re “supposed” to do according to people who have successfully won their exes back. Once people realize that they are not going to stay with their ex, they typically experience depression. It can feel hopeless when you think that you will not be able to find love again and you have lost someone who was dear to you. It makes sense that you would feel sadness and become depressed upon realizing who you have lost. When you finally come to terms with the fact that your life has changed and you are no longer with your partner anymore, it’s possible to get to a place of acceptance. As I mentioned before grief is not linear so you might float in between the spaces before you reach the acceptance phase. You might go in and out of denial, you might become angry suddenly and then depressed. Grief is not something that makes logical sense it is completely emotionally based.
Give yourself time to go through the grieving process and be patient as you do it. If you have a setback and you go into the denial mode it’s OK. Eventually, you will get back to a place of acceptance and understand that you have lost something significant in your life and it is perfectly OK to feel sad about that. Over time you will heal and move on but you always have the memories of whatever you lost and that matters.

Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.

Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.