First things first...
Now that we got that out of the way...
Stage 1: Denial
You literally cannot handle the reality of this situation. I find this stage is usually the shortest as reality creeps in pretty fast. The reason breakups are so hard is that we literally get addicted to the high we get from being in love and being in a relationship. Our bodies release Oxytocin, or the "love hormone", which helps us bond and make intimate connections with our partner. Once we are no longer receiving this "high", our bodies go through withdrawal, just like a drug addict would. We crave that fix we get when we feel close to somebody in a romantic way. Therefore, in order to get through this stage you must start by recognizing the reality of the situation.
Begin by removing any piece of their existence from your life. You don't have to destroy them, but right now you don't need any reminders of your previous life with this partner. So that picture of you two on that trip, those old movie ticket stubs, his favorite jacket, all of those things you need to put in a box and shove in the darkest most inconvenient corner of your room. If you have some of his things, and really want to move on faster , mail them to him. Don't ask him to come over to retrieve them, that is denial persuading you keep hold of this relationship because you'll get to see him again. Don't put yourself through that, it will hurt more than the fleeting satisfaction of seeing him.
Next, either delete his number from your phone or change his contact to something else that's not his name. Something that won't elicit a response from you when you scroll through your contacts. Again, calling or texting them is not a good idea. Right now you are healing, and whatever you say will come from a place of hurt and quite honestly, they don't want to hear it. Have some pride in yourself and don't let them know how you are feeling, it's not their business anymore.
Stage 2: Anger
"Why did this happen to me?" "Why would he do this?" Anger is a difficult stage because you clearly are unhappy this happened and you don't understand why or how could they do it. Anger is actually a good stage to get to because it will eventually lead to knowing this person treated you unfairly and help you to start moving on. What's under the anger is really deep hurt and sadness, but anger is much more easily manifested. I call this stage the angry Beyonce stage, see below...
During this stage I suggest you vent a lot to your friends, your mom, your dog, your neighbor, really anyone who will listen. You need to get all of that anger out and process out loud what happened. You will have a lot of questions, and you will want answers. Clearly you aren't going to be receiving them from your ex S.O., they already said their piece, so now it's time to hear someone else's point of view. A word of caution however, your loved ones will reach a limit of when they will want to hear about your ex. Not everyone is a therapist, and a certain level of empathy is expected but should not be exploited. Your friends have their lives and will want to talk about what is going on with them too. Just keep that in mind.
I can't stress enough how helpful and therapeutic it is to go to the gym. I don't say this for losing weight or anything else but to work out all the emotions you have in your body, and replace then shortly with endorphins. Put on some uplifting music sweat it out. Music like this...
The anger phase is necessary and normal. You might have the depression phase first but eventually there will be anger. You were happy, at least you thought you were, and now you are not. That would make anybody angry. Journal your feelings. I always say the best therapist is yourself. Process everything you are feeling by writing it down and reading it back to yourself. I have personally done this many times and have found very cathartic.
Write a letter to your ex. I don't recommend sending it, this is not about them it's about you. Get everything out that you want to say and write it down. If you want to really work this out, sit down and read it to an empty chair and imagine it's them. Trust me, it feels weird but it works. Sending them this letter is a bad idea because it will only provide them insight into how hurt you are, and the hard truth again...they are no longer in your life, they are not required to care.
Step 3: Bargaining
You may have gone through this stage during the breakup, but you may also be going through this after the fact by reasoning that if you weighed 10 pound less, cooked them 3 square meals a day, never got mad at anything, then they could come back. This is the time to give yourself a reality check. It takes two people to be in a relationship, and if one of them is willing to bail, that does not a healthy relationship make. Even if you did change all these things, you would always be looking over your shoulder for them to break up with you again, that's not a way to live.
But Cherie, I can't live without them!
I think we both know that statement isn't true. It might be harder for a time, but not nearly impossible. I will leave these quotes below to help give you affirmations:
The awful truth is yes, you had some part in why this went down, but it is not, and I repeat IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!! Write this down and read it to yourself over and over again.
Stage 4: Depression
This stage is perfectly depicted by this Lana Del Rey Song....
It's basically like being in a big dark hole where you can't see the daylight even though it's right above your head. There is not quick fix for this, you will feel sad, some longer and harder than others. You are feeling this huge loss of your future together, the times you spent, and the expectations you had of them. Even going pass places you used to go together and listening to the songs you used to listen to together will be painful. This is normal. This is called situational depression, it is temporary. If this goes on for more than 6 months I would recommend seeing a therapist to get help. It may take you years to fully get over someone, but if your depressive feelings impair you from going to work, participating in your regular activities, a continued loss of appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, then this might be Major Depression which is much more serious. All of those symptoms will happen initially, but should not be happening for a prolonged period of time.
Anyways...so what can I do to get out of this depression? There is no magic cure. The honest answer is that time will do the most work. If all you did was breathe that day then it was probably enough. At this point in my life I reason, that I will not waste the best years of my life crying over someone that did not see my value. So, I allow myself a couple of days to be a hot mess of tears and sniffles, but then I turn on Sasha Fierce and start working on myself. Try to use this opportunity to be the best you you can be. Learn from what did not work in that relationship and use that information as a lesson for the next one. Take time to be alone and do the things you enjoy. Take up a new hobby, or reinvest in an old one. Take care of your body, it is beautiful and should not be punished for something that it had no control over. Get enough sleep, take a walk, read a book. Hang out with a friend and promise yourself you will not mention your ex, and just enjoy their company. How can you get over something you are constantly reminded of? When they pop into your head think of something else to immediately replace that thought. It's time to make new memories and start this next chapter in your life.
On a social media note...UNFRIEND. UNFRIEND, UNFRIEND...if you know you have no self control in looking at their profiles. It's like constantly stabbing yourself in your heart to stalk them and see how they are living without you.
Stage 5 Acceptance:
There will come a day when one day you wake up and your first waking thought is not your ex, that day is called the beginning of your new life. You are finally stable enough where you can get through your day without being bothered by their mere existence, and you actually are okay that you are not together anymore. Life is full of challenges, and as difficult as this was or will be, you will survive this, and will be an even better person coming out of it. Trust in yourself, your heart will heal. There might be some bruises and scars, but it will just be more resilient now, and wiser. I'm going to leave you with this quote because I think it sums everything up. I have much more to say about this topic, but I think this is enough for now.
Please leave me any questions and comments bellow, I'm more than happy to respond.