The five stages of grief

When you break up with a sociopath, it is usual to experience bereavement. This is because the person that you fell in love with, was just a lie. Everything was a lie. You were sold something which didn’t exist.

Ending of the sociopath relationship, can feel like a bereavement - go gentle on yourself.

It is common at the end of a lot of relationships to go through the five stages of bereavement, but this is especially  true for the person who has been dating the sociopath.  You had fallen in love with the image of a person and the illusion you were sold.You fell in love with lies, and a charismatic mask. Now that you know the truth, there is nothing that can bring that person that you love back. You experience what feels like a death. It feels like bereavement.

What are the five stages of grief?

1. Denial and Isolation

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

1.Denial and Isolation

You might have gone through denial many times, whilst still in the relationship. You might have known what was going on, or had suspicions, but you denied this to yourself. (and likely the sociopath denied also), denial was easier to face than the truth.  This is what can cause confusion. When the relationship ends, facing the truth, that the person that you were in love with didn’t actually exist and that you were being sold something that was about as real as the Emperors new clothes, can be a difficult pill to swallow.  When we are in denial, we:

Make excuses for the behaviour – trying to justify it in your own mind

You probably would have experienced isolation whilst in the relationship, as the sociopath is controlling, and could have  taken you away from people close to you. Additionally after the break up, you might  feel that other people wouldn’t understand the crazy that you have just been through which adds to the isolation.

Your sense of trust has been diminished, and this makes you feel isolated. When there is a true bereavement, there are others there for you. At the end of a relationship that others perceive as ‘bad’…. you can feel isolated and on your own. The person that you were in love with, really didn’t exist. It was all a lie.

2.  Anger

Another defence mechanism is anger. You feel angry at what has happened to you. You feel angry that you have been lied to and cheated. You might think about revenge, you might feel disdain and hatred for the sociopath. You feel angry for what has been done to you, and the lack of respect for your own welfare.

Anger is a good defence mechanism, it protects you from pain, and during the time of anger towards another, you do not feel the anger at yourself. You are projecting your hurt and your pain back to your abuser.

3. Bargaining

Coming out of anger, the pain becomes overwhelming. Reality is coming closer. No longer are you protected by the pain of anger. You are feeling what has happened, and are reflecting that feeling towards yourself. Not feeling so angry, you are no longer protected from the pain.

To rid yourself of the pain, you try to bargain with your abuser. Will they change? Is there a reason for this behaviour? If you do x x x can they do x x x ? To make things better.

You are bargaining with both your abuser and yourself. You don’t want this pain, you don’t want this bereavement either, you want back the illusion of the person that you were sold. But no matter how much you want it, you realise that was all it was – illusion.

4. Depression

As the reality is starting to sink in, you begin to feel depressed. You are no longer in denial, you can see clearly what has happened to you. You feel used, and abused. You sink into depression. At this point, there is a sense of loss, but by now, you have been learning what has happened to you. You feel depressed and hurt, and withdraw into yourself. You want the pain to go away, and try to understand what has happened to you. You might have disturbed sleep patterns, difficulties with eating regularly. You will likely withdraw yourself from the life you led before, and have difficulty with trusting others.

You are no longer using defence mechanisms to protect yourself. Instead, you are feeling your pain. It hurts. You want the pain to go away.

5. Acceptance

The final stage of bereavement is acceptance. Whilst there is no  definitive order to the other stages, they can come and go, in different stages, acceptance is always the final stage.

When you have reached acceptance, you understand what has happened to you. Perhaps you have found some spiritual meaning to why?

Now you are in possession of the truth. You are no longer searching for answers. You are no longer deluded or confused, as you were in the first stage. You see the truth for what it is. No longer do you feel angry, either at your abuser, or yourself. You just accept, that what has happened, has happened.

You realise that there is no point in bargaining, because the person that you thought they were has gone. Now, you are moving out of depression, and are accepting. You feel pity for your abuser. Whilst you might not agree with what has happened to you, you accept it, and you let go.

In the final stage, there is no bitterness. When you have reached the final stage of acceptance. You have let go. The abuser is no longer attached to you. You might go through the first four stages many times, when you have reached acceptance, you have finally healed.

We are all different – but for me, personally, when I can let go, and be thankful for the lesson that it has taught me, this is where I am fully healed. When I can think of the person without feeling any emotion at all. Not anger, love hatred. Just neutral. In fact, for me, when I can let go with love, is when I am truly over it and at the final stage of healing – acceptance, healing, and freedom!!! In the final stage, you stop loving the sociopath – and you start truly loving you.

In the final stage, you accept, you move on, and you love yourself!!

In the final stage, you accept, you move on, and you love yourself!!


29 thoughts on “The five stages of grief”

  1. After all the abuse and the lies. The accusations and me trying everyday like mad to show him that he was the ‘one’. I now see that it was all a lie and i gave my trust to a sociopath that demanded so much from me and gave nothing in return. is it normal to be going between depression and acceptance? Because one minute i’ve accepted it and feel fine and the next i feel so depressed that i think i am literally on the floor in a ball crying my eyes out.

    1. Hi Cammy, yes what you are describing is normal too. This happens when your heart can take a while to catch up with what you already know. True acceptance is when you let go with love. You love the person but you know you cant be with them. Their issues are greater than you, and greater than you deserve to cope with. They belong to the sociopath, not you. If you keep swapping you haven’t yet reached true acceptance. Are still going through the motions. It doesn’t last forever. Stick to no contact. Focus on you, and take on day at a time. It will get better I promise! 🙂

    2. @Cammy,
      Like accepting any loss, I think it’s a process. At least one other post on another thread talked about how going through the bereavement stages is not a fluid, sequential progression. Sometimes, I think I’ve got a handle on it, then I slip a little backwards. It is progress though because you are acknowledging your feelings. Little by little, I’m learning to not indulge rethinking his untruths or giving one more minute to something that revealed itself to be unhealthy, however unintentional.

    3. I know exactly what you mean. I feel like a train has driven through my life and didn’t stop as the lights changed, instead it just ran over me, I left shattered and broken, the pieces need to be put back together.

  2. But when do I love myself again and love the things that I used to do? When do I get my motivation back? Sometimes it is everything I can do to get out of bed in the morning. I used to ride my bike hundreds of miles at one swipe. He completely robbed me of who I was.

    1. Hi bike. When is whenever you like. It sounds simplistic but the only thing holding you back, is you!! Get back out on your bike. Only you and fear can hold you back. What do you fear? What are you scared of?

  3. I am at the 5th stage of grief from a 5 year relationship with a sociopath. I have put my name on business interests with him thinking we were going to grow old together. For the last couple years he has used them as threats toward me. I acted our in denial that someone would use my trust and good intentions to hurt me. I am ready to move on but am in a holding pattern because of my bad decisions with this person. There is no reasoning whatsoever, and I understand it better now. However, it is a nightmare and keeping me from moving on.

  4. Totally feeling the anger today. Wishing her dead, really. I heard that she was going on about the fact that sometimes relationships don’t work out but you gave it your best shot and wish them well. I got heated. I supported us while she barely worked for over two years and had no place to live and she never paid rent, used and abused me and created a whole life I did not know about behind my back before she discarded me. Then she claims to of “gave it her best shot and wished me well”. Outrageous considering the nasty things she’s been saying to me through texts and all she has done. It’s all to make her look good. Delusional.

    1. Hi Allison,
      You are so not alone with those experiences. Very similar story here. I supported her for years while she made endless excuses and promises. When I finally put my foot down, she set up the next “free ride” behind my back, including the cheating, lying, etc.
      Realising that my hope for a good life together was as empty as her promises was bad enough. Realising the extent of the lying and betrayal was worse. But having to then see her publicly announce that we “amicably separated”… and having to watch so many people commiserate with her “heartbreak” and congratulate her on being so responsible and loving and kind during such a hard process… I thought my brain was being put through the same meat grinder my heart was already through.
      Yes – it’s all about her looking good (so that the next one believes her victim-story and will do just as much to “help” her…). I get that, but still, the reality distortion adds a whole other dimension of twistedness and pain. Honestly, if I hadn’t been pointed to this site by someone who saw right through her… I don’t know how I would be able to handle it. At least now I know I’m not going crazy. And at least I know there’s no point in trying to talk to her about it, and that all I can do is focus forward.
      I don’t really know how to integrate the shock and hurt, not yet. But the anger helps me to say: no more – and she will not hold me back from living a better life now.

  5. Hey- I feel like I went through the major moments of grief while we were in our relationship. I found out about him being a pathalogical lier hiding chewing, drinking, his porn addiction, thousands of dollars on phone sex(while being to tired to have sex and my card was declined for groceries) on our little girls first birthday in Aug 2013. I couldn’t believe my best friend and sole mate could do this to me, our family, our relationship, our future together. We were engaged! I had a wedding ring and dress, decor ect. I was so angry at him I hated him. But we made a plan together to help him quit his bad habits because he was so sorry …he loved me..he would do anything to make it work. We got rid of his smart phone so he only had a work phone, cut up his credit cards, hired a counselor , but he of course didn’t want it brought up after that(I was still hurt and angry it had only been two weeks). So to cope and not let our little one see I just hid the hate… I still loved him but hated him almost as much. Then 3 months later I find out he is still lying and hiding things. I leave him for about a week. I wouldn’t come home until he realized I wanted someone right for me and if that wasn’t him it was okay but he needed to make some changes before I came home. (If we didn’t have our girl I wouldn’t have put up with it) We bargained ( he wanted me to give up chocolate because that was something I loved and he was giving up things he loved) … 1 month later I find messages to multiple woman on fb to meet up that go back all the way to when we were first together, 2 months into our relationship. I left for the final time. I was depressed so hurt and sad. Now its only been a month and I feel more and more like myself( your web page had definately helped me sort things out. I feel free like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I recently told him (we have to co parent our little one ) I will always love him. But love and trust are two different things. Trust is needed in a relationship. I want to be friends I love him we have a daughter together, but we have absolutely no chance of a future.

    1. Trust – once broken – can never really be fully repaired.

      Betrayal is the worst thing to do to someone. once that has happened, you can never go back.

      It would be like, being a child and told santa was your parents, then the next year wanting to believe it is true…. you never would again. It can never be the same again.

    1. I think you ‘partially’ can Rain. The problem is, if you are with a socio/psychopath, they are so manipulative, they control your feelings and emotions, so that you are confused about how you feel. You therefore might begin.

      You might get angry – you might be in denial, but you cannot go right through the process when with the person (I think you can not with a socio) as they are so good at what they do. They do not allow you your own emotions and thoughts. Everything is skewed when you are with them. Only when you are away can you think for you, about you, otherwise everything is about them, even if you do try to emotionally detach.

    2. The sociopath (despite your best interests) will NOT allow you to emotionally detach… if you try they will sense it then start playing mind games… so I would say that really it is impossible.

  6. I understand what your saying… So is he not a sociopath? I feel like everything on your site is him. But I feel like he is an 8/10 somedays I feel like he loved me but that it just wasn’t enough, he seems to be a charismatic sociopath. Everything he says seems true although I know it’s a lie. It’s hard because not counting the occasional slip of the mask he treated me so well. ( not counting the things he did behind my back. )

    1. Hi Rain, I have dated a charismatic sociopath, which is why you can likely relate to a lot that is written on this site. while not all based solely on my experiences with him, a lot is written about him. It IS confusing as to your face, they are wonderful, perfect, amazing, kind, helpful, caring,etc… but it is the ruining and damage that they do behind your back, or if they think that they are losing you – it is then that you see how little they really care. Or they might care about you, but being without conscience, they are literally capable of anything to hurt you!! They can flick like a switch. I think it is normal in the healing process to question whether they are. I read so much, desperately wanting him NOT to be. But everything said he was. I couldn’t deny it anymore. Where you are right now, sounds like the fog of confusion. Also read this post – about the confusion of kindness

      1. I am in shock that everything I am reading is the person I am dealing with right now. He was so charismatic and charming and flipped. It hurts to have someone that you think cares about you want to hurt you. I am so thankful to have found this page and realize that I am not crazy. Its so hard to express to people what I went through,

  7. Hi my head is mush at the moment I’m on day 3 of leaving my sociopath and all these feelings I have are so confusing I feel like my head is going to explode I just want it to stop! I’m angry at myself for being sucked into his life for loving him so much how can a man that I thought was perfect be the devil in disguise I really can’t wait for the day I wake up and no longer think of this person and everything he has done to me I hope that day comes very soon until 3 days ago I thought I was crazy and I didn’t know what a sociopath really was I feel sorry for him but I don’t want to feel that way I know I have to be strong and have no contact with him what so ever because I know if I do I will get sucked right back in thank god I found this site it has helped me more than I ever thought it would

  8. I am 4 days out but have known for quite a few months what I’ve really been dealing with and knew this day would have to come because when I realized he was a sociopath I knew then I had to give up any hope and except that he will never love me or be the man that I want in my life . It took months to get him out I was so afraid of the pain but then last week when he didn’t answer the phone and then turned it off I had had it I told him to get out. What is scaring me know is how well I do seem to be handling this I think I’ve probably been through theses stages while he was still here and I’m now at the understanding that the is no point in anger because he is a sociopath I’m trying to accept nothing I can do will touch him so to speak perhaps him withholding affection and sex has also helped me over these months. Does this sound crazy that I seem to be fine don’t get me wrong I have quite a few moments in the day I’m up and down with all the emotions but I must say this was easier than I thought what I was so afraid of for so long . I feel almost a relief that I don’t have to put up with this anymore. Any thoughts or suggestions will be appreciated or am I in denial? ? I do see how I can’t seem to trust myself yet.

    1. I’m the same as you! I’m 3 weeks no contact but feel I’m over it already! I was with him for 6.5 years so do feel like it’s been too easy and I’m waiting to crash!

  9. I love you all and hope you all heal from these monsters, one of the best things you can do to get better is please keep reading, open your mind far beyond their sick world. Remember people have fought to take themselves back and regain control for thousands upon thousands of years, there have always been predators and always a need to protect yourself from mind/psychic games of abusive souls/people.

  10. I was in a relationship with a sociopath for one year and half. He followed exactly all stages of a socio/ psychopath. He hooked me on FB and then bombarded me with too many chats and calls and love bombs.I was noticing that he was doing some strange behaviors but I thought he was unique and emotional. I fell in love with him after two months. He like other socio/ psychopaths had extremes in his life. He had been a formula one driver ,and he was doing it with me in the streets too. He was sharing with me all his big secrets like his company emails and he was participating me on all of his conference calls without other’s knowing. he was super persuasive, charming, flirty and believable with a high sense of humor. Again like other sociopaths, he was a very good love-maker and he could fake his tears easily. He has had an affair with his married sister-in-law 10 years ago for almost two years until his wife found out but she had continued with him for another 10 years. He started a very intimate relationship with me and was spending most of the week in my house and other times we were connected through video chats and calls. he was calling me his soulmate and his eternal love. Actually we had a very great time together and had common interests on most of things and we were getting along very well. After a while, I got that he hadn’t finished his divorce yet and had lied to me. He tried to bring up excuses and promises but started arguing and shouting time to time. He was also the CEO of his company but most of shares belonged to his investors. All the time, he was getting new investors and he could do it because he was a great salesman. He was using investors’ money to pay himself and other employees payrolls. Finally, we had a small fight, but he never came back to me. He finished our relationship suddenly and i was shocked left alone that what happened to that great LOVE?! He is still in my FB and I cannot unfriend me. It’s almost 3 months and a friend tried to bring us together but he reacted aggressively and made me say sorry but he didn’t accept to continue. I am in a very deep depression mood and crying all the time. I cannot go out of the house and sleeping most of the time.

  11. I was with my Narsitic sociopath for almost 3years. We have a 1 yrs old son together, I didn’t realise exactly what he was until I kicked him out for the final time and told him to go back to his place. I was searching on the internet for why does he lie so much and sociopath came up, after reading all triats I finally realised what I was dealing with all this time, the lies were huge, we live in a small village and he lied to trusted friends that his mum was dead which she was not and got a lot of their money for her supposed cancer treatment before she supposedly died. he told me this and told me to keep quite about it.
    I should have left his sorry ass a long time ago but I was addicted to him and addicted to having the most amazing sex of my life with him, which I am ashamed to admit.
    He also had sex with my neighbour while I was in hospital having my hernia surgery which happened as a result of having his baby, and the story goes on……. so many lies it got to the point I did not know what was a lie and what was the truth and the trust was completely gone.
    I still have to see him on a regular basis as he sees his son but I have set up clear boundaries and I show no emotions I have very little contact with him only to arrange when he is seeing his son. I feel a mixture of emotions I hope it will get better soon, I know he is already getting his new fix and it makes me feel sick to my stomach, it’s been almost 4 weeks and I feel proud of myself this is the longest I’ve gone with not taking him back like I would have done in the past.
    I find it helpful just to keep reading up on the subject to remind myself not to go back and it is really helping a lot

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