How To Move On From A Breakup By Grieving Fully — And Forgiving Your Ex

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How To Move On From A Breakup By Grieving Fully — And Forgiving Your Ex

One of the most difficult things to do is recover from a relationship breakup. It's difficult to forgive a partner.

It's also normal to grieve a lost relationship. Breakup grief is very real, and difficult to deal with.

Gaining insight into practicing the virtue of forgiving a person who hurt you isn't easy, but knowing the inability to forgive is hurting you is a good first step.

RELATED: How To Get Over A Breakup By Turning Negativity Into Positivity

Understanding that you're having a hard time letting go of the past means you've made the decision to heal. However, you need additional tools to go to the next step.

You may find that reviewing the Kübler-Ross model for grief can serve as a guide for determining in which stage of grief you find yourself in: Shock and denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

A grief cycle may have you bouncing between these stages. Recognizing them can give you clues about how to move forward.

Shock and denial.

When you first understood that your relationship with your ex was over, you were in disbelief. The way of life you knew ended, and you weren't prepared to start over. The reality of beginning again wasn't a pleasant one.

There was a “no choice” scenario to deal with; you were just "reacting" to events as they presented themselves.

The goal at the beginning of trauma is to remain calm and create as stable an environment as possible.

Your paranoia could be at an all-time high. Time and circumstances began to bring some clarity to your new situation, but certainty remained elusive until final decisions were made.

Once those decisions were finalized, you may have felt more stable, but your life remained in chaos.

You might have a false feeling of freedom when decisions were made. The finality of a divorce or the end of a serious relationship may have brought the belief that the worst was over. You felt relief and a sense of clarity.

A period of “out of character” behavior may have ensued; maybe you surprised yourself by acting in ways you didn't realize you were capable of. Everyone responds differently, but it's not uncommon to appear a little reckless in this period.

It's a phase that may not occur, may last a short time, or last for a long time.

When this phase is over, you'll begin the hard work of recovery on a long-term basis. There's often a fatigue that sets in, and the thought of moving on by forgiving your ex becomes a priority.

You may feel it's the right thing to do in order to build a new life. After all, it's the politically correct and modern thing to do! This need may start to consume you.

It's at this moment you realize that you're hurting yourself by not being able to forgive your ex. This may have been the moment when you were ready to move from stage one of grief because you’re starting to gain some perspective.

The numbness of shock may remain, but it's good to realize you’re having trouble moving past your relationship. You may not give yourself credit for moving forward to the next stage of grief.


In this stage, it's possible that you may feel stuck in numbness and no anger at all. It is, however, necessary to get to this stage. Expressing anger in healthy ways is important. In a way, anger burns away grief.

Realizing there are different forms of anger may assist you in determining a path forward.

Here are 4 ways to express anger in grief:

1. Anger about circumstances.

You want a new life and have the need to move on. However, oftentimes this anger is not about the future or having to forge a new way of living. It can be about the past.

You may decide you wasted a large portion of your life handling issues that feel unimportant after a loss. It's anger due to frustration and wondering if time could have been better spent in your life.

In the case of forgiving an ex, you may have anger over being fooled or embarrassed.

2. Anger of abandonment. 

You know any unfinished business before the loss will remain. This could be accompanied by some feelings of leftover guilt.

The reality of no longer being able to interact with an ex, for example, leaves a sense of loneliness. It's very upsetting to be left alone. You may feel abandoned because your routine is gone and must be replaced.

3. Anger toward the divine.

When you’re sad, you turn to your faith and beliefs to assist you and provide answers. This becomes tricky, because your expectations get confused.

You may feel left alone, but the divine never leaves you. Your anger may have you asking, “Why, God, did you allow this to happen to me?”

You may wonder why the divine has not given you the courage to forgive when you know it necessary to move on. Your unwillingness to endure this lesson is normal.

4. Anger of futility.

You're just plain angry because you cannot change your situation. There is a rage within you not being expressed.

There exists a finality to your lost relationship, and going backward is not an option. You have your memories of the past, and recapturing those positive moments is unattainable.

RELATED: How The Death Of My Ex Forced Me To Make Peace With Our Turbulent Relationship

If you can see yourself experiencing any of these types of anger, then you know you continue to be on the right path toward healing. Allowing yourself to be angry and expressing it in healthy ways is part of the process.

You may want to pause and think about the things you can be grateful for.

You’re out of an unhealthy relationship. Rebuilding your life and creating an environment for success is helpful. This distraction can be helpful when you’re trying to readjust your thinking.

Be courageous. Allow yourself to adapt and do what's necessary to let go of the unforgiving negative energy and move to a more positive state.

Learning to cope with your anger means you’re taking good care of your emotions and finding activities that distract you from dwelling on the past. When new activities and thought patterns create positive outcomes, it will feel good and encourage you.

When you take action to create a new life and find you’re busy with new ideas and behaviors, it moves anger and grief aside. They're replaced with a new and positive energy.


The bargaining phase of grief is another area that prevents you from forgiving your ex. This is the phase where you may be second-guessing your actions and trying to determine what you could have done to prevent it.

The loss of a relationship can be more devastating than a death, because the reality of your ex being around and not having resolution is difficult.

It may appear odd, but in many ways it's easier to forgive a person who's died than someone who is alive. The finality of death has a way of producing some closure. Forgiveness is not an easy virtue to attain, but it's possible.

Creating a new life with new activities allows you to move to another place where your past with your ex is not a reminder of your loss. When you practice healthy habits and develop new routines, your perspective broadens, allowing for possibilities that may not have existed before.

During this phase of your grieving process, it's good to consider using a strategy of reaching out to others to learn from their experience. Engaging others and expressing your feelings allows you to purge negativity as well as further explore your emotions.

The nature of “give and take” in the bargaining phase gives you permission to learn from others and to learn about your journey.


This is the stage where you take a deep dive into your psyche and may learn more about your situation than you ever considered before. This stage of grief represents another phase of anger, but it's introverted and very personal.

In this phase, you may need additional support to help you cope.

If you need counseling or medical therapy, then you should not hesitate to seek help. You need to take care of yourself, and achieving a healthy mindset is critical when recovering from grief.

When you’re depressed, being humble and acting with integrity toward your situation and others can be helpful. Being humble is not about being meek or submissive; it's about resolve and the determination to succeed.

Avoid being a victim to your circumstances and allowing your situation to control you. You may feel damaged during this process, but acting with integrity and taking a moral high ground will lift your spirits.

The decisions you make during this important phase of grief will determine the length of time you stay in this place and set the stage for the next phase of acceptance. This is the phase where the work in the previous stages of grief pays off.


The last phase of grief usually is present when you no longer have time to dwell on your past or your ex. You now have the energy to take care of neglected projects or have the desire to start new ones.

When you’re in the acceptance phase of grief, the pursuit of a new path in life is almost second nature.

You may never entirely forgive your ex, because the trauma of the breakup may always remain. However, the difference may be that you now lack obsession with them. The issues surrounding your ex no longer play the same dominant role in your life.

Acceptance is about prioritizing your new life and not dwelling on forgiving your ex. It's about making forgiveness just another part of your healing process and being able to move on.

It's always good to respect the past as part of your growth, but don't allow it to define you. You can only stop hurting yourself when your joy and happiness are the priority. Forgiving and leaving your ex behind become a natural part of your recovery.

The journey and work are not easy, but the results are worth the effort. Now you must figure out when you’re taking the next leap on your path to recovery.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Get Through Post-Breakup Grief & Come Out Stronger On The Other Side

John Cappello is a natural psychic medium who has been in practice for over 25 years.

This article was originally published at John Cappello. Reprinted with permission from the author.