The Search For Answers - The First Stage of Relationship Grief ExplainedFeb 07, 2023
In a relationship breakdown, both parties suffer stages of grief. Regardless if you are the one that decides to leave or is the one who is left feeling abandoned. It is first important to acknowledge that stages of grief will happen at different times for each person, unfortunately in many cases causing further tension and conflict.
For the one that makes the decision to end the relationship, it is common for one or more stages to happen before the separation, as they come to terms with the reality of their decision. It is also very common that these stages of grief do not follow a set order and can seemingly happen in unison, rather in a stage of one at a time. Resulting in higher levels of stress, anxiety, and emotions. It is also important to acknowledge that there is no set timeframe, however, studies show that it takes on average 17 months to grieve the end of a relationship. Remember however this is the average, and it is not a race to the finish line.
The Search for Answers
This first stage is focused on a search for answers. How did you end up here? What went wrong?
If you are still in the relationship at this point, it is a search for hope. Can they not see how unhappy I am? Why are they not noticing?
For those who are left feeling blindsided by the news, their relationship is over, the search for answers can lead to a state of desperation. Finding yourself wanting to pick up the phone, text, arranging meetings, in a search for understanding. You will often spend time deeply analysing conversations that you'd had with your ex over the last couple of months. Dissecting every word, every action.
In reality, for either party, this is not a healthy place to sit. When looking for answers you need to search your own personal motivation. Are you looking for answers to lay blame or are you looking for answers so that you can actually help move forward and hopefully stop yourself from making the same mistakes again in the future?
Often the answers aren't the healthiest thing to be looking for at the start of the grief process, but it is the starting place for many who feel blindsided.
Word of Warning!
It is in this initial searching for answers phase that friends and families support can be won or lost. The people around you will show you compassion, but they also need to see you taking steps, even small ones to move forward. Nobody wants to be friends with a victim or someone who badmouths a mutual friend. There is no question that divorce is awkward for those around you and by acknowledging this it will help you gain perspective.
Friends and family are also not who you should be going to for support in all cases, they may not have stood in your shoes, and their opinions of your relationships will no doubt cloud their judgment. One of the reasons I established Tall Poppy Woman was to provide a safe place for women to gain perspective from other women who can share wisdom without judgment or bias.
Beyond this seeking professional help and more formalised counselling can wipe months off your recovery and is well worth the investment in time and money. There is no better person to invest in than you.
It is in this early stage of grief, we can get lost in our own minds. Thoughts whirl around our minds causing stress, anxiety and overwhelm. Finding your place of calm to decompress, seeking independent views and creating a higher perspective of your situation is key. Other women and men have stood where you are right now, there is a path forward and people around to support you, however, you have to be willing to support yourself first. You should not put your life on hold waiting for answers. It will not serve you to do this and accepting that you may never have the answers will set you free.