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How to Live With a Broken Heart

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Does it seem like you’ll never heal after the breakup? Then you need to start learning how to live with a broken heart. Here’s what’s working for me, and how it can help you.

My sister disappeared from my life eight years ago. I used to think I’ll get over it, but now I believe that I’ll never fully heal and move on. It’s time to accept that a piece of my heart and soul will always be with her, no matter where she is or what she’s doing.

If you’re learning how to live with a broken heart, read 75 Ways to Let Go of Someone You Love. I wrote it shortly after losing my sister – I interviewed all sorts of people in all stages of breakups and other losses. It’ll help you learn how to live with a broken heart.

Living With a Broken Heart

Accept that your loss will always hurt. This is the hardest thing for me to accept, because I truly thought I’d get over the pain and grief of losing someone I love so much. I don’t know how I’ll feel in 20 years, but I suspect I’ll still be sad and lonely without her. I think an important part of healing after your heart gets broken is accepting the fact that some wounds never fully heal.

Find people who inspire you to live fully, deeply, madly. When was the last time you hung out with someone who is so alive, it makes your teeth hurt? Someone who is loud, happy, exuberant, and who laughs freely and easily? For me, it’s Heather. She’s one of my dog walking friends, and her energy is fantastic. I also recently met Janet, who laughs at the drop of a hat – literally! These women inspire me because they’ve suffered pain (breast cancer, a child’s death, divorce – and Janet is an addictions counselor who has seen the underbelly of human life) and yet they keep marching on. That’s how you live with a broken heart: you find other survivors, and you hold on tight.

Do something that challenges you. I’m finishing up my Master’s of Social Work, and am interning as an addictions counselor at a residential drug recovery program. It is challenging the hell out of me! I am learning so much and being stretched so far, I barely have time to think about living with a broken heart. What about you – how do you spend your days? If you’re consumed with thoughts of your ex or your loss, then you’re not challenging yourself. It’s time to shake up your life and do things that make you come alive with fear, anxiety, and even frustration. For that is the juice of life.

Remember that acceptance is easier than resistance. I don’t feel as devastated as I did when my sister first disappeared from my life, because I’ve learned how to accept my loss. I’m still sad that I lost her, and I wish with all my heart that things were different, but the reality is that she is not here with me. Accepting reality for what it is brings so much emotional freedom and positive energy! When I accept that fact that she is not here with me – that she has chosen to leave me – then I feel lighter, somehow. When I resist reality, I feel heavy and anxious. If you want to know how to live with a broken heart, notice how it feels to accept and how it feels to resist. Which feeling do you want to carry around with you all day?

Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan Elliott is one of the most popular books on living with a broken heart. It’s about working through grief, and putting your energy into healing and becoming whole again. It’ll help you get your confidence back, and learn to love again.

For more tips on how to live with a broken heart, read 10 Ways to Move on After a Break Up.

I welcome your thoughts on how to live with a broken heart below, but I can’t offer advice. You may find that writing about your experience is helpful – because writing can bring clarity and insight.


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4 thoughts on “How to Live With a Broken Heart”

  1. i am 42 and have never been married. i am currenlty doing a phd progam in Educational Psychology in Cameroon. i have just suffered a break up from some one i considered a soul mate by i am sexually weak. i still love her very much. i need help

  2. My live in partner not with me anymore he cheated me I found only in fb..for 11 yrs we’ve been together after I need to accept he is not the right guy. I’m learning how to live with a broken heart.

  3. Leona, this is wonderful advice – thank you! Volunteering is an excellent way to take our minds off our broken hearts and losses. I’m a Big Sister, and I love spending time with my Little :-)

    My mom is still alive, but it’s not the same with her. I love her very much, but her mental illness (schizophrenia) is an obstacle. It’s like a barrier to our relationship, to us being really close. It’s sad, but…it is what it is. I hope I can use my experience to be a light to others, to offer hope and inspiration.

    In peace and passion,

  4. Thank you so much for this wonderful article, Laurie. I’m so sorry that you’re sister is not in your life, it’s definitely a loss for you but she is missing out too, on her relationship with you, and that’s too bad. But, I think you’re totally correct in accepting that the loss of your sister is a part of your life, and that it’s ok to feel a sense of emptiness when you think of her, instead of trying to resist the feeling.

    My dear Mom passed away four years ago, and she and I were very close. I miss her a lot but of course, the pain of her not being with me is not quite as intense now as it was the first year after her death. However, I’ve accepted that I will always miss her, and I won’t see her again until I cross over to the other side, when it’s my time to go. But, until then, I’m going to live my life to the fullest, which is what she wanted me to do.

    Volunteering is one of the best ways I can think of to not focus on my loss and to focus on someone else who really needs my help and time. In fact, I’m starting to volunteer at a local wildlife rehabilitation center where I live in San Diego, and I’m really looking forward to helping as many injured and sick wildlife as possible, and meeting new friends and connecting on a new level with Mother Nature. I know my Mom would approve, as she loved all creatures, great and small.

    So, I encourage anyone who is hurting with a loss to try to reach out to those in need in your local community…you’ll do a lot of good and meet some wonderful, like-minded people too! This will help take your mind off of your loss and give you joy and a sense of accomplishment. :-)