> Skip to content

Article  •  5 January 2021


Six stages of separation

In Breakup Bootcamp, Amy Chan walks readers through the first steps of dealing with heartbreak.

Amy Chan thought she had it all, until a relationship breakdown completely derailed her life. ‘I had been living my dream life, dating a man I thought I’d marry, discussing how we’d raise our future children,’ she writes in the introduction to Breakup Bootcamp. ‘I had gone from confident career woman with a perfect life plan, a designer loft, and a boyfriend to jobless, homeless, and boyfriend-less. Everything I had built my identity on – status, career, six-figure salary, relationship – all disappeared.’

It wasn’t long before Amy hit rock bottom. And she knew she had to fight to stop her life spiralling further out of control. So she set about learning everything she could about the science, psychology and spirituality of heartbreaks and relationships.

Fast forward to today and Amy has completely transformed her life, her relationships and founded a breakup bootcamp helping countless of women heal their hurt. In her book Breakup Bootcamp, Amy directs her experience into a practical, thoughtful guide to turning broken hearts into an opportunity to break out of complacency and destructive habits. In the passage from Breakup Bootcamp below, Amy breaks down the stages we work through to begin dealing with the grief of a breakup.

Mourning the loss of a relationship can feel much like grieving someone who has passed away.

Grief has six stages, no matter what the source of that grief. Remember, the timeline for moving through grief is not always linear. There will be days you feel like you’re over the hurt and ready to embrace your new life, only to find yourself triggered and catatonic the next day. This may seem like a setback, but it’s a natural part of the process. Here are the six stages of grief, or more accurately in this context, separation.

Shock: Shock occurs both on a physical and on a psychological level. Physically, a surge of adrenaline rushes through the body, which may result in you feeling jittery, dizzy, and outside your body.1 Psychologically, you may feel lost, panicky, overwhelmed, and inundated with intense emotions. This is your body’s natural protection against pain. Your body has not yet adjusted to a new reality without your partner. Once you start to process what has happened, you reach the next stage: denial.

Denial: At its core, this is a rejection of reality. The sooner you accept reality – that it’s over – the sooner you start the process of healing.

Depression: The first step of healing is depression. You feel sad, apathetic, and numb. Everything reminds you of your ex and the memories you shared. In this stage, your natural inclination may be to isolate yourself, but it’s important that you embrace support from loved ones at this time.

Anger: Life seems unfair and unjust. You question why this is happening to you and may resent that your ex doesn’t appear to be in as much pain. Anger indicates energy is moving, which can motivate you to make proactive changes.

Bargaining: Your brain doesn’t want to accept it’s over and starts to strategize ways to win back your ex or how to fix the relationship. During this stage you might ruminate on what you should have done differently or ‘better’. You might even make up excuses to see your ex. You may relapse during this stage, reconnecting with your ex only to separate again. It may take a few cycles of being on- again, off- again before you reach a tipping point and accept that the same behavior is going to keep yielding the same results. It’s important during this stage to not lose sight of the reality that your relationship ended for a reason and that both people were cocreators of its ending.

Acceptance: This stage is when you embrace the reality of the situation and start to make choices to help yourself move on. Now you can minimize catastrophic statements such as ‘I’ll never love again’ and ‘I will always be alone’. You see hope for your future and decide you are ready to close the chapter and start the next one.

Breakup Bootcamp Amy Chan

A scientific and spiritual approach to rewiring your heart by relationship guru and founder of the revolutionary Renew Breakup Bootcamp.

Buy now
Buy now

More features

See all
The Authority Gap by numbers

Startling figures from Mary Ann Sieghart revealing the unseen bias at work in our everyday lives.

How to stop procrastinating

Use the two-minute rule from Atomic Habits to get motivated.

This will be hard

In How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates outlines just some of the hurdles between humanity and a net-zero carbon world.

What’s your perspective?

Take the quiz from Raising Girls Who Like Themselves to find out if the glass is half full or half empty.

My home is out of control

Simple steps from Mums Who Clean for getting on top of a messy house.

The 50/30/20 rule

In Financially Literate Youth, Marlies and Jai Hobbs offer practical advice for managing your finances.

Fuel your fierce

Brita Fernandez Schmidt offers three tips for harnessing inspiration.

The oldest dog in the world

Meet Maggie, unofficially the world’s oldest dog – and officially dairy farmer Brian McLaren’s best mate for nearly thirty years.

Themes from A Promised Land

From the influence of family to his political rise and the world events that shaped his presidency, Barack Obama covers enormous ground in his Presidential Memoirs, Volume 1: A Promised Land. Here we break down some of the key themes and turning points.

A Promised Land: key events

From inauguration through to Operation Neptune’s Spear, take a look at the milestones covered in Barack Obama's riveting memoir.

Start your zero waste family journey

Bestselling author, rocket scientist, medical doctor and mother Anita Vandyke offers her top five tips for becoming a zero waste family.

Book clubs
A Promised Land book club notes

Settle in for a memorable reading group discussion, with Barack Obama’s long-awaited memoirs: A Promised Land.

Looking for more articles?

See all articles