The Five Stages of a Break-Up: The Playlist

Breakups are hard. Divorces, even the friendliest ones, can be like breakups on steroids.

That first love who broke up with you two weeks before prom – that hurt – badly. Now imagine she took your house or you have to see him every week when he picks up your kids who tell you about his new girlfriend “Kiki” who used to be their babysitter.

Luckily, there’s pop music to help guide us through the five stages of grief as defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (the Kübler-Ross model — not just for death anymore!). Yes, that’s right. You can turn your pain into one epic musical reenactment.

This can’t possibly be happening. No Doubt’s Don’t Speak speaks to you on every level. Karen O’s pleading in the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Maps hits you in the gut. Maybe this isn’t happening. Maybe this is all a terrible dream. Maybe we can fix this if we just ignore the situation for the rest of our lives. Maybe denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, maybe it’s a coping mechanism you’re using to keep from shattering into a million pieces.

Denial gives way to anger because who do they think they are dumping you? How dare they?! You howl along to Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me A River. You pogo to The Clash’s Train in Vain and pray no one ever, ever sees you dancing like this. You drink two gallons of wine and clear an entire karaoke place with your rendition of Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know. Sullen and alone you do The Supremes’ You Keep Me Hanging On as an encore. You try to hail a cab by bellowing Fiona Apple’s Criminal. No cabs stop for you. You cannot remember how you get home.

The hangover is bad. The anger has given way to desperation. Maybe they’ll take you back. Maybe there’s some sort of deal you can work out with the universe. Please Please Please, you beg along with The Smiths. Stay, you implore along with Lisa Loeb. When Can I See You, you blubber with Babyface. You force yourself out of the house. You look terrible.

You pick up take out. You see a familiar silhouette through the window at the bar on your corner. Only, it’s not one silhouette, it’s two. It can’t be. Oh you’d rather poke out your eyes than be witness to this. I’d Rather Go Blind by Etta James carries you home the rest of the way. You unpack your dinner. They gave you two forks. Two. Welcome to depression. You’re Crying with Roy Orbison. All Saints knows you’ve Never Ever felt so low. Blur knows there’s No Distance Left to Run. You Fall to Pieces with Patsy Cline. For your own safety you steer clear of more Smiths but can’t stay away from The Cure. You cry and cry listening to Pictures of You on repeat. During the first few bars of Roxette’s It Must Have Been Love, your neighbor knocks on your door to check that you’re alright. You promise them you’re ok but Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me begs to differ. You fall asleep to Love Is A Losing Game by Amy Winehouse.

Morning has broken. A sliver of light is peaking through the blinds. A new day has begun. You’re crawling out from under the depression/duvet and you feel almost alive again. You stand up. You feel the tiniest bit lighter. You stand up a little straighter. Katy Perry starts singing Roar and you think about putting on a flower crown, but it’s a Monday and you work in a bank not a beer stand at Coachella. You walk to the office. Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive echoes in your head. Charli XCX’s Breaking Up puts a spring in your step and you realize you’re better off without them.Your head is clearer. You want a sandwich. The journey is complete.*

**The journey will take longer than a weekend. The journey has been edited and condensed to give you hope that you won’t be miserable for six months to two years.**

**You may be miserable for six months to two years. The hope may be a lie.**


James J. Sexton