Whether or not we admit to it at the time, what each of us has experienced at the end of our relationship with a Narcissistic Partner is grief for the loss of that relationship.

The most widely accepted definition of the stages of grief has 5 stages, which I will review for you here:.

The Five Stages of Grief

  1. Denial is looking past what is real with a mindset that it isn’t what you know it to be.
  2. Anger is the retaliatory phase where we try to get even or feel jealousy.
  3. Bargaining often begins before the actual loss.  We make deals to maintain our relationship or pray to whatever Deity we claim for resolution that will keep our lives whole and our relationship in tact.
  4. Depression is probably the worst stage.  Complete apathy can cause us to lose interest in everything that IS life.  In most cases, it is situational but even that can be overwhelming.  Believe me, it sure was for me.  My life totally stopped for four months because I could not stop sobbing (not whimpering) for more than 10 minutes at a time!  For me, the depression was so severe that I couldn’t even rely on sleep as a respite.  It was truly awful…
  5. Acceptance, which is much different than resignation.  When we come to acceptance, we have absorbed the entire experience and nothing about it stimulates painful feelings.

The stages of grief were developed to assist people who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness understand the emotional journey upon which they were about to embark.  In spite of the list’s good intentions and seeming accuracy, there is no succinct formula, for the grieving process for all human beings are different and have varying degrees of coping skills, and none seem to fully explain the grief cycle that follows years of emotional abuse at the hands of a Narcissist.

I still marvel at the depths of my depression for, all things being equal, I am considered to be a strong-willed and capable woman.  No experience or trauma in my life had ever rendered such a deep feeling of helplessness as my encounter with a Narcissist like my ex.  During my reflective phase, which was coupled with my depression, I reasoned that the impact was more severe due to the long duration of the emotionally abusive roller coaster ride that relationship created.  I was exhausted from years of shadow boxing with him.

Any way I turn it, however, it was MY CHOICE to stay on that ride.  I have accepted that much.  My struggle to accept the foolishness that I allowed into my life during my relationship with a narcissist still natters at me though…

But, back to the point of this post.  I have recently discovered a condensed list of the stages of grief that is, perhaps, more descriptive of what we all  have and/or are going through.  This lesser known grief model was described by Dr. Roberta Temes in her book, Living with an Empty Chair, Revised 6th Edition: A Guide Through Grief.

Three Stages of Grief by Dr. Roberta Temes

  1. Numbness is our stage of mechanical functioning and social insulation.  Truth be told, I am still insulating myself from socializing with a potential romantic partner.  I’m not exactly sure that I am “numb” but, following the chaos of 2006, I still am not confident about my ability to make good choices in the romance department.  🙂
  2. Disorganization was stage where I couldn’t handle anything easily, especially if it involved leaving the house for any reason.  I suffered intensely painful feelings of loss, regret and shame.  I’ve come to believe that I cycled in that phase for such a long time because I was stupidly looking for a rational explanation that could clearly never be found.  Narcissists are not rational beings.
  3. Reorganization is re-entry into a more ‘normal’ social life.  Even though more than four years have passed since I’ve interacted with my narcissistic ex, I’m actively in this stage and steadily rebuilding my life one aspect at a time.  I’ve reorganized my geography, my career, my family life, and I am in the process of replenishing my circle of friends.

Each of you who has replied to posts on this blog are similar to me or you would not have found this site to begin with.  Each of you are at different stages of grief when you are compelled to write your stories, after something that I’ve written has resonated with you.  Regardless of the merit of either of these models for grief, as they relate to your specific situation, remember that there is no formula for recovery from the trauma that you’ve endured.  The time that it takes to recover from a narcissistic relationship is the time it will take.  So many factors weigh into the mix and our backgrounds and cultures drive a lot of our way of thinking.

I hope that everyone who frequents this blog KNOWs that I do understand what you are feeling, or can empathize with your feelings, and that I deeply care about your recovery.  In spite of the debilitation that depression can cause, that pause to reflect and sort things out in my life was essential to my spiritual recovery and return to wholeness, as it also will be for yours.

Rest assured.  Peace will come.