Usually when we hear the word grief we automatically think that there must have been a death to accompany it, but the reality is that we can grieve for many other reasons too. We can grieve the loss of a relationship/friendship, a job, a career, a pet, a place, a thing, etc. These are all different scenarios, but they all have one thing in common, LOSS! I had it and now it’s gone! When we lose someone/something that we loved or that meant a lot to us, an emotional shit storm ensues, and we move through the different stages of grief until we come out the other side.

Unfortunately some people don’t make it out the other side because the journey is far too painful for them, and they choose to check out of this life. I totally get this. I remember lying in bed many years ago, in the depths of a deep depression, and thinking that leaving this world would be such a relief. So you’ll find no judgement here. I been there and bought t-shirt (but that’s a story for another day).

During the breakup of my relationship and the loss of my dream life in Melbourne, I hadn’t really considered that I was grieving, my head was all over the place, and this didn’t even enter my mind. Well, not until I entered the “anger stage”. OMG I have never experience such a rage in my life, I swear I nearly combusted! Before I tell you all about that, let’s have a quick look at the stages of grief. I’ve read lots of articles on grief, some say there are five stages and some say seven stages. I think the seven stages are just a more detailed version, so I’m going with that.

The seven stages of grief

  1. Denial & Shock (also numbness)
  2. Pain & Guilt
  3. Anger & Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. The Upward Turn
  6. Reconstruction & Working Through
  7. Acceptance & Hope

This is how grief went for me…

Stage 1.

I didn’t deny that the breakup happened, believe me, I knew it happened! But I just couldn’t stop telling the story over and over again, it was like it hadn’t sunk in or something, so I keep repeating the events to make sure it was real. I was relieved to find out that this was a natural reaction to shock, phew! My friends were nothing short of amazing, they would listen to me as I went around in circles desperately trying to make sense of the whole sorry situation.

Stage 2.

OMG I will never as long as I live forget the intensity of the emotional pain I felt in the first couple of months. I honestly wanted to peel back my skin and crawl out of my body to escape the hurt. The pain was unbearable. I just wanted it to stop. I was like my dog trying to escape fire crackers on Halloween! The pain followed me around like bad smell. I went to bed weighed down by this huge hurt, I woke up in the middle of the night bawling my eyes out, and in the morning I would open my eyes, and there was my hurt waiting patiently to accompany me for the day ahead. It was so f**king exhausting, and I felt like it would never end! There was a little guilt in there but I knew in my heart that I had nothing to feel guilty about so I told it to piss off.

Stage 3.

Nothing and I mean nothing could prepare me for the absolute tornado of rage that followed stage two. Sweet divine I was like a crazy woman. Anger isn’t an emotion I experience too often, so this was like an out of body experience for me. I was consumed with rage, it was like a scene from the exorcist, I kid you not! During this phase I got a text from a couple whose wedding my ex and I were both supposed to attend (he was best-man). The bride had wanted me to know that I was still invited even though we were no longer together. The same day my rage levels were at an all-time high, and God love her, I’m sure she wished she had never answered my call. I told her if I went to her wedding (and I quote) “I would beat him up and down the dance floor with a Hurley“, and would she be ok with that! I was absolutely demented with anger. Anyone that knows me, knows that this is not me, it was the rage talking!

Thankfully I knew better than to pretend my rage didn’t existed, and to let it out rather than bottle it up. I would however like you to know that no one was physically harmed during this time, they may have gotten a lash of my tongue, but I most certainly DID NOT beat the shite out of anyone!

Stage 4.

I felt like crap and very low, and sometimes I even felt a little hopeless, but thankfully I didn’t experience depression. The crappy feeling kind of became my default setting, but to be fair it was a hell of a lot better than the hurt and insane rage I had been experiencing. Hurt and anger did make guest appearances every now and then however, but thankfully they were no longer regulars. So I just floated around in the crappy feeling for a few months, and bit by bit it lessened. I have to say that work really helped though, I love a bit of craic and devilment, and there is plenty of that at the restaurant. I would park my crappy feeling while I was at work, I wasn’t stuffing it down, just leaving it to one side for a while.

Stage 5.

This happened at about the six months mark, I just started to feel different. Things began to look brighter, and I felt lighter than I had in months. I had booked Electric Picnic (a music festival for all my non Irish peeps) a couple of weeks after the breakup. I’d always wanted to go, but never followed through. I headed off with my friend Breda, whose unbelievable craic altogether, and I just knew things were on the up. PS. Electric Picnic is freaking amazing, we had the best weekend EVER!

Stage 6.

My get up and go made a comeback, and I got back in to my office and started to focus on my business again. This was huge because I had avoided my office like the plague for months. I’d just do the basics, I’d look after my existing clients, but I had neglected my other projects. I also started being more consistent with my fitness and signed up for yoga class again. I went out for lunch and coffee with my friends and really enjoyed it, I had been doing this all along but I was just going through the motions.

Stage 7.

At the moment I feel I’m jumping in and out of stage 6 and 7. Most days I wake up and feel good. Some days I wake up and feel a little sadness or hurt, or I feel a bit angry. I find the mornings the hardest, and it can be far too easy to allow those emotions to take hold and ruin my day. So instead I make a conscious decision to give those emotions my attention later on in the day. Then I pop in my headphones and meditate and snuggle my dog to get the good feeling going, and I get on with my day. Life is getting brighter every single day, I’m off to New York in a few weeks and I’m beyond excited! Another thing checked off my bucket list, yippee!

If you are going through a tough time, whether you feel you are grieving or not, just know that it’s a process. It will take as long as it takes, there is no time frame on it. All you can do is be super kind to yourself, ride the wave of emotions, and know that that it will pass in time.

These are the things that helped me

  • Amazing supportive friends and family, that are comfortable with emotional outbursts
  • Sitting in my emotional turmoil
  • Meditation
  • Wholesome food, most of the time. I did partake in some brownie binges
  • Exercise
  • Fresh air
  • Hugs
  • Laughter
  • Comedy shows

Things I avoided like the plague

  • Toxic people and gossip, I felt shitty enough without adding to it
  • Running away from my feelings
  • Mindless TV, well most of the time
  • Alcohol, again I felt shitty enough without dealing with a hangover
  • Tinder, seriously someone actually suggested I should sign up
  • Dating, my poor heart was broken and a date would just be a quick fix
  • Crap food, except the aforementioned brownies
  • One night stands, yes this was suggested as an effective way of getting over a broken heart

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