A member asked about the stages of grief and I had this old post of Beach's saved as it provided guidance to me during my early days. I hope it helps someone else too. HUFI
From book "Journey from Abandonment to Healing" By Susan Anderson
When our love connections are in turmoil, panic and insecurity hit hard. Simple advice like "Just let go" doesn't work when it comes to heartbreak, because our fear runs too deep and our despair feels too real.
A broken heart brings up all of our abandonment issues, overwhelming us with feelings that seem out of proportion to the event. But, you can overcome your fear of abandonment and your reaction to that fear.
Learn to recognize each of the five universal stages of abandonment and gain the strength to find love again. Eventually, you'll emerge from your breakup better able to live and love than ever before.
SWIRL - Shattering, Withdrawal, Internalizing, Rage, Lifting
Stage One: Shattering
The tumultuous feelings of "shattering," the first stage of a broken heart, are both temporary and necessary for healing. To cope with this stage, follow these steps:
1. Stay in the moment. During an emotional crisis, you need to learn how to function as best you can. Staying in the moment is the healthiest way to live while coping with devastating circumstances. Blast your favorite music and sing along, or go for a drive with the windows rolled down and feel the wind across your face. Use the sensations of life to give you a momentary respite from your fears and sorrow.
2. Get ready for time management. When your relationship is torn, just getting through each day may seem like a full-time job. To manage the intense feelings, structure your time productively. Fill your days with lunch dates, outings, movies and massages. Even your job offers a hidden benefit: Work becomes "occupational therapy." Good pain management means planning constructive activities to carry you through the most difficult periods of each day.
3. Take it one day at a time. You may feel as if your future has suddenly gone up in smoke, but remind yourself that hopelessness is a feeling, not a fact. Overcome your fears by living fully today rather than worrying about tomorrow. As hard as it might be to believe right now, your future will eventually be filled with love again.
4. Stay strong on your own. Use your temporary isolation to learn how to stand on your own two feet. Build emotional self-reliance -- something long overdue for most of us.
5. Pamper your wounds. Abandonment can feel like a "knife wound to the heart." Indeed, you've sustained a personal injury. Like any other wound, it needs to be well-tended, pampered and healed. Give yourself time and care.
6. Reach out to supportive friends and family. "People need people," especially while going through a loss of love. And wouldn't you be there for them? Of course you would.
7. Ask for an ear. Instead of seeking advice, ask your friends to just listen to your feelings. Advice can make you feel worse, as if it's a sign of weakness that you're in this much pain. Yet heartache is not your fault. What you need most is support, companionship and understanding.
8. Join an abandonment support group.
9. Keep a daily journal. Writing leads to self-discovery, keeps you focused on positive thoughts and strengthens your resolve to turn this painful time into a growth experience.
10. Seek mentors, counselors, spiritual leaders and experts. These people will help you gain access to knowledge beyond your own and expand your mindscape. This is also a good time to get into therapy, since your feelings are raw and you're open to help. See these guidelines for selecting a good therapist.
Stage Two: Withdrawal
Withdrawal is when you need a love fix and can't get it. These steps will help you work through the wrenching feelings of this second stage of abandonment.
1. Resist the temptation to contact your ex. The yearning and longing for love is intense during this stage. In spite of the torment, don't look to your ex for support. Repeated contact can cause re-wounding, which can hurt more than the initial breakup.
2. Honor your feelings. Your hurt feelings won't just be willed away, in spite of the messages you receive from your well-intentioned friends and family. They love to tell you to just forget about your ex. If only it were that easy! Give yourself time and acceptance to work through these feelings.
3. Learn to become self-nurturing. A hidden benefit of abandonment is getting to know your emotional self -- your inner child -- the part of you that is hurting, needing and afraid. Lovingly administer to this long-neglected part of yourself.
4. Don't confuse self-nurturing with self-indulging. Don't let self-indulging hurt your pocketbook or your diet. Instead, think of indulgences that will replenish your body's resources, like walking, yoga, the gym, a workshop or journaling.
5. Strengthen your adult self. "Big You" needs to get stronger to take care of "Little You." Become the best adult you are capable of being. Rise to the top of your wisdom and maturity to manage the emotional turbulence and guide your recovery to safety. This is how heartbreak transforms us into stronger, more emotionally intact adults.
6. Recognize that you are grieving. You are going through a loss of love, a loss of lifestyle and a loss of person. Your grief is as painful and consuming as someone grieving a death, but abandonment grief is not validated by society. You must do that for yourself.
7. Check your "Always and Never" thinking. Heartbreak sends us into catastrophic, either/or thinking categories: "I'll always be alone" or "I'll never be happy again." Reassure yourself that your situation is temporary.
8. Don't self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Withdrawal from love is just like heroin withdrawal. Both involve the body's opiate system, but instead of craving a drug, your body is craving your lost love. Be careful: Alcohol and drugs may dull the pain temporarily, but during this period you are highly prone to developing alcoholism and addiction.
9. Offset your loss by adding new people, places and things to your life. While you're adding, be sure to gain something other than weight or hangovers. You are looking to gain new friends, new insights, new interests and new regimens that enhance your life.
10. Be gentle with you. When you're going through the stress of a breakup, your limbic brain automatically goes into self-defense mode, creating powerful hormonal and biochemical changes in your body. You feel wasted and washed out because your body is reacting as if you were fighting a powerful internal enemy. You'll need more R & R than usual.
Stage Three: Internalizing
During the "internalizing" phase, you believe you deserve or have caused the "bad" things that happened to you, and blame yourself for the breakup. This causes you to question your self-worth and devalue yourself as a man or woman. During this critical third stage is when your wound can become infected and permanent scarring can set in. Follow these steps to avoid the effects of internalizing:
1. Stop turning the rage against yourself. Beating yourself up only injures your self-esteem. Fight self-doubt with all your might.
2. Learn something positive. We all learn from our mistakes. Take responsibility for your side of the equation. Rather than blaming yourself, use your lessons learned to work toward becoming your higher self.
3. Take your ex off the pedestal. In spite of what you believe right now, your ex is neither as irreplaceable nor as special as you think. Stop idealizing your ex at your own expense.
4. Honor yourself. Recapture the power you've lost to your ex by making yourself the special new object of your devotion.
5. Face your reality and accept its challenge. Think of your current emotional crisis as exactly where you need to be to work on yourself.
6. Create a daily regimen. Develop a strategy for moving in a positive direction and follow it daily, even when you don't feel like moving a muscle. Going through healthy motions will eventually make you feel better and help you reach your goals. The motto "fake it until you make it" pays off in the end.
7. Make a new resolution every day and keep it. Maintain confidence that each positive action will eventually lead to success.
8. Don't fault yourself for feeling emotional pain. The strongest, most independent people feel intense sorrow and fear when their love connections are threatened. These lingering feelings are universal, even though most people don't show them publicly. Although your friends and family may say, "Just get over it," recognize that your pain is part of being human and that it takes time. It's not your job to recover on your friends' timeframe.
9. Give yourself a positive stroke every day. Look to see how you've handled today differently than yesterday. Give yourself credit for the strengths you are developing, your independent strides and positive actions. On a particularly bad day, embrace yourself just for surviving.
10. Fill your mind with enlightenment. Meet positive people, read enlightening books and attend interesting seminars and workshops. Take advantage of every growth opportunity available to you.
Stage Four: Rage
Rage heralds the beginning of recovery. This fourth stage is when you begin to reverse the rejection, take back your power and take on the challenges of the outside world.
1. Rage doesn't mean you have to get revenge against your ex. Remember, the best revenge is success.
2. Watch your moves. Anger spurts out of control during this turbulent time. As agitated and impatient as you feel, be careful not to take your rage out on innocent bystanders (including friends who, in their own imperfect way, are only trying to help).
3. Start turning it around. Invest your aggressive energy into turning this difficult time into one of personal triumph. Commit to positive change.
4. Take back control. Don't put your life on hold waiting for your ex to come back or change. It's time to will yourself to move forward.
5. Get ready to forgive. If you're still feeling "wronged," you might not be ready to make the leap all the way to complete forgiveness. Here's a twist: Imagine asking your ex to forgive you for using him/her to abuse yourself.
6. Don't suppress your rage -- channel it positively. Properly directed rage can mobilize action, fuel new projects, help you change old routines and explore new avenues to wellness. Use your rage to go after your old self-defeating patterns with a vengeance and revamp your life.
7. Identify your relationship patterns. Vow to break the patterns that have kept you on the outside of love in previous relationships.
8. Conquer new territory. Take a trip to a new environment that will support the new you, free from all of the old reminders. Use this time to regroup and establish new goals.
9. Reclaim old territory. Reclaim some of the territory lost in the breakup. Re-experience some of your sacred places with a new friend or by yourself to discover your ability to celebrate life without your ex.
10. Create your own closure for the relationship. Write your ex a letter, expressing all of your feelings, stating your own reasons for choosing to separate. Then decide whether or not to send it. Either way, set firm boundaries with your ex, bringing an end to the relationship on your terms. (It will be at your own risk.)
Stage Five: Lifting
"Lifting" is when you rise back into life and get ready to love again. The external changes you've been making in your hairstyle, car, clothes and weight signal to the world that you're making even more significant changes on the inside. During lifting, these changes pay off. To promote the new you:
1. Step outside of your life. Discover new interests, capabilities and aspects of your personality beyond your usual circle of friends and activities.
2. Think of your previous relationship as boot camp. You've learned its lessons. Now you're finally ready to ...
3. Get back out there. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but put the word out that you're ready to go public as a single person. Take advantage of every opportunity that surrounds you with people.
4. Reach out to at least 10 new people. Include those who might share some of your interests as well as those whose interests extend your own.
5. Do not dismiss new connections to whom you're not attracted. Your goal in this step is not to fall in love. It is to discover your emerging new interests and strengths through meeting and getting to know a variety of people.
6. Do not clamp onto any one person. Your intense emotional needs at this time alter your judgment about who is right for you. There's a temptation to get attached to the first person who takes your aloneness away. Yet sometimes that first person turns out to be the wrong one. Committing yourself to seeing a variety of people will allow you to stay connected without having to attach to any one person.
7. Share your true feelings with at least three new connections. People who can listen and understand without judgement do exist. If you think there's no one out there you can trust, you haven't looked in the right places. Your job is to go find them.
8. Be rigorously honest. Come clean about how you have contributed to the problems in your relationship. When you admit your own culpability, you are cleansing your abandonment wound by discovering that people still love and accept you. Breaking the shame barrier redeems your self-esteem and deepens your healing.
9. Surrender to your losses of the past. Make a conscious effort to be in the moment, fully present with others.
10. Become your "higher self." Make deeper connections with those who bring out the best in you, motivate you to reach your goals, support your convictions, share your highest values and make you feel good about who you are becoming.
Stage Six: Finding Love Again
Now that you've journeyed through the steps of heartbreak, here are some pointers for overcoming your barriers to love and intimacy and finding love again.
1. Be willing to change your values. You may have been choosing people on the basis of attraction, status or other false values stemming all the way back to junior high school. Consider finding new attributes attractive: a person's ability to be emotionally open, to admit to their vulnerabilities, to be fully present.
2. Choose people who are seeking relationships rather than romances. The difference is subtle. Determine if they are able to be emotionally constant or if they are just looking for emotional highs. Avoid those who base their attachment to you on infatuation rather than commitment, those who pull away when the infatuation subsides. Find those who are safe to attach to.
3. Be suspicious of you. If you find that you only want someone who is a "challenge," this may be your own way of avoiding relationships.
4. Don't resist commitment. If you feel engulfed and want to run when someone is willing to commit to you, consider that it may just be your own fear of abandonment. The key is to hang in long enough to work through your feelings of resistance.
5. Avoid getting into emotional entrapments. Don't become involved with someone who is not available or dangles you on an emotional string. These negative attractions are often more compelling than positive ones -- and often harder to break. If you're in one, it will take all of your willpower and lots of outside support to get out.
6. Stay away from emotional candy. Instead, seek people who offer emotional sustenance rather than the "right chemistry." Chose those you can trust, respect and revere -- people with integrity who are able to commit.
7. Seek mutuality rather than the game of "emotional pursuit." If you start to become critical of your partner and second-guess your choice, consider that some ambivalence is normal. Your perfectionism and unrealistic expectations might be blocking you from achieving intimacy. Perhaps you're having a problem adjusting to the healthy dynamics of a mutual relationship.
8. Be open to love. Love is sometimes not what you might expect. It is often invisible -- the guy next to you at work, the woman you let get away last time because you felt no "chemistry." Don't be ruled by attraction alone. Love is all around you, but it's up to you to recognize it.
9. Be vulnerable. Your vulnerabilities are worth sharing and may be the very reason significant others are able to connect and feel comfortable with you.
10. Turn love into an action verb. Don't expect love to be something that you just fall into. Love is an action not a feeling. A mature relationship happens when two people commit to active caring, sharing and showing one another love.