How to Let Go of a Loved One

by Diane Dilov-Schultheis

When a loved one is no longer in your life for whatever reason, it truly is a challenge to let go of them. The loved one may have simply moved away, become involved with someone else and left you for them (or various other reasons) or they may have died. It does not matter which circumstance led you to this point; letting go of a loved one is not a quick and easy task to accomplish. If you could merely “turn off” your feelings, it would be easy to let go of a loved one. This is not the case when you are dealing with human beings. Any time you lose a person (or anything cherished) from your life, there is a grieving process (sometimes referred to as “grief cycle”) you must go through to let go of them. The following steps list the five levels (steps, stages) of grief that you will need to go through when you want to let go of a loved one.

Letting Go

Expect to experience intense feelings of shock, disbelief, numbness, isolation and denial. When you learn about the loss, your mind will reject the inevitable, possibly withdraw inward, feel paralyzed and you may have strong feelings of depersonalization in addition.

Anticipate experiencing powerful feelings of anger. You may blame yourself or others and have uncontrollable emotional outbursts. You may feel rejected, powerless and very frustrated as well.

Be ready to attempt to bargain your way out of letting go. Your mind holds on to the hope that you do not have to let go of your loved one and will look for ways to reverse the actions that led you here. Many ideas, feelings and emotions will be experienced, but none of them can change the circumstances and this often leads to the next level – depression.

Expect to feel deep sadness as you start to understand the reality of the loss. Severe crying bouts and depressed moods are frequent during this level.

Foresee coming to terms with your loss. The final level of letting go is the acceptance of what has taken place. You can now move on with your life.

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  • It is very common to jump back and forth from level to level before completely being able to let go of a loved one. Many people will also experience more than one level at a time.
  • Do not try to rush your process of letting go of a loved one. There is no set time table you must follow and every person (and situation) will vary tremendously.


  • If you have not been able to let go of a loved one and experience severe depression for a long time, get help from a professional as soon as possible.

About the Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.