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The 7 Stages of Grief

Grief is a messy heart-wrenching time. It’s like the guest who overstays their welcome for months on end. It is also a robber of joy and peace-of-mind.

Just when it seems grief is moving out, it suddenly decides to stick around.

Understanding grief is so important because any time there is infidelity, there is also the cessation of the relationship you once knew. Often, being betrayed is experienced as traumatic and to grieve this loss of your relationship you once knew is normal.

Let’s look at the seven stages as they apply to infidelity.

Denial/Shock – The human brain is very clever in that it has systems, which protect us from experiencing too much at once. Denial and shock protect us from taking in too much emotion at once.

Pain/Guilt – Next, as betrayed spouses, we feel the pain of betrayal. Paradoxically, sometimes guilt will creep into this scenario. Even though we did nothing to cause the affair, we might think of circumstances that make us feel guilty.

Bargaining/Anger – Anger is one of the stronger emotions that comes through the grieving process. Please don’t try to suppress it. Any time we try to suppress emotions, they will find an unhealthy way to emerge in our lives.

Bargaining also comes with this stage. We might beat ourselves up over things we “should have done,” believing that such actions may have prevented a spouse’s affair.

Though these thoughts are normal, please do not let them get under your skin. Infidelity is a choice.

Depression/Loneliness – The burden of depression is one that is very difficult to carry. While we are depressed, we might also feel very alone since it’s nearly impossible to explain depression to those who have never experienced it. Moreover, we may not have a neutral party to speak with and this can exacerbate feelings of loneliness.

The Upward Turn – This is the stage where life feels as if it has breathing room. The clouds of depression and loneliness start to clear.

Reconstruction – This is the process of reimagining life and reconstructing what we have to work with. If you choose to salvage your relationship, this is where it will be very important for both you and your partner to create this new relationship together. This is a time for partnership and practical solutions.

Acceptance/Hope – Acceptance simply means that you aware the affair happened, you accept you cannot change the past, but you don’t necessarily forget that it happened. Simultaneously, you may feel as if you are no longer tied to an emotional roller coaster.

Grief after an affair can feel very chaotic. It is not unusual to cycle through these stages out of order, or even cycle through several stages in one day.

Each person heals on a different timeline. Healing is greatly influenced by earlier life traumas, length of the relationship, and the details of the events that happened during an affair.

When grieving, it is important to take time to process everything that you need to process. Please don’t listen to people who tell you that your healing must take place on a certain timeline. While they may be well-meaning, you are the one who has to do the work and you must honour yourself by giving yourself the time you need to heal. Don’t deny yourself the time to assimilate all of your emotions.

Grieving hurts, grieving happens, and grieving is necessary. Give yourself grace and be gentle with yourself.

Don’t rush the process because you will only do yourself a disservice.

About David Lawson

Finding the Light is a locally owned and operated counselling and life coaching business based in Bundaberg. We seek to empower our clients to find their way forward to a better life by using the approaches of counselling or coaching. If this blog article has raised more questions please contact us by email or call us on 0407 585 497 to arrange a time for us to discuss the article. Mention this blog and we will give you a FREE 30 minute session to discuss.

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