If you’re having trouble healing and dealing with a breakup, these steps to grieving the end of a relationship may help. They’re inspired by a comment from a reader.
“I ended a four-year relationship and I’m so relieved,” says Chris on How to Get Over a Broken Heart: 20 FAQ From Readers. “He loves money, yet he does not respect other people’s property. He co-signed for my daughter’s student loan. Then I became his slave (my fault). I returned the favor financially in many ways, helping with legal stuff, running errands, saving him money and time. I started to move in with him but changed my mind in the middle of the move. Now, half of my furniture and boxes are at his place. How do I stop feeling like I owe him something? When I ask for my stuff, he talks about how he co-signed for my daughter’s loan. His apologies and pleas go on and on. I miss him, but it’s not a healthy relationship. How do I get past this?”
Moving on might be easier if she separates emotions from business. Co-signing the loan was a nice thing for her ex to do – but it doesn’t mean she has to stay in a relationship with him! He’s using the loan to make her feel guilty, to manipulate her into staying. She doesn’t owe him anything.
And here are a few tips that may help…
How to Grieve the End of a Relationship
Different people heal in different ways, depending on their personalities, their relationships, how and why their relationship ended, and what else is happening in their lives.
Will these suggestions for healing will work for you? I don’t know…but the only way to find out is to give them a try…
Take time to mourn your loss
When you put your heart, body and soul in your lover’s hands, you become intertwined and interdependent. Letting go of even the most unhealthy relationship involves a loss of who you were, who you wanted to be. “Grieving the end of a love relationship is a gradual process of extracting the ‘I’ from a vanishing ‘we,’” says Michael Vincent Miller, Ph.D., author of Intimate Terrorism: The Crisis of Love in an Age of Disillusion. “Mourning teaches us how to accept the end of love and helps us start the process of feeling whole again.” (O Magazine, July 2008).
The self you get back is never quite the same as the self you relinquished to your relationship. Grieving sets you free and helps you become independent and strong. But, grieving the end of a relationship isn’t just about crying, watching sad movies, or looking at the “we” photos until the wee hours. Healthy mourning is about saying farewell to the past while preparing for the future, and not being ruled by negative emotions.
Take a break from relationships
“Avoid going from one love relationship to another too quickly. Take some time to mend your heart – which means no dating and no sex for a number of months,” says psychologist and relationship coach Jan Hoistad, author of Romance Rehab: 10 Steps to Rescue Your Relationship. “Take this opportunity to learn about yourself, your part in the breakup, and about healthy love relationships in general. We often learn the most when we are in great pain. A broken heart can motivate us toward change if we don’t wallow in it or in self-pity.”
Go cold turkey
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can make healing harder. For instance, I’m “Facebook friends” with my niece and ex-brother-in-law, and they sometimes mention my sister (who stopped talking to me about five years ago). I feel rejected, sad, and bad about myself when I hear news of my sister – especially when I’m on Facebook at night. That’s when my defenses are down, I’m tired and have no emotional resources left.
Eventually I realized the connection between Facebook and feeling depressed…so I stopped. Now, I log on to Facebook once every couple of months – and I don’t miss it! It was a scab that I finally stopped picking, and I’m much happier without it.
What scab do you keep picking? What is slowing or crippling your grieving process? Find the strength to stop doing it. You’ll heal faster – especially if you’re learning how to deal with a break up at work.
Escort the “if onlys” out of your life
“If only we didn’t break up, if only I felt better about myself, if only I had more money, if only I lived in Canada, if only I wasn’t 38, if only my mother didn’t do that…” You’re not alone – everyone has “if onlys.” I’ve got heaps of ‘em, and all they do is hold me back. How do you get rid of those mournful “if onlys”?
“You basically have two choices: learn to like your current circumstances or change them,” writes Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D. in Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life. She explains that learning to like your circumstances involves changing your actions or thoughts to be happier. Or, change your circumstances by getting a new job, a new place to live, a new lifestyle, or new friends.
Either way, you need to kick those “if onlys” to the curb. Or, risk staying stuck in the past. This is an important step when you’re grieving the end of a love relationship.
Learn how to let go of someone you love
These tips for grieving a loss are just the start. Read Letting Go of Someone You Love for more in-depth help for moving forward in your life. This ebook is a collection of tips and advice from psychologists, life coaches, and relationship experts.
For more tips on mourning lost love, read How to Start Over After a Breakup.
Connect with God, the Universe, your Higher Power
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” said Eleanor Roosevelt.
Whether you believe in God, Jesus, or a more abstract Guiding Force in the Universe – connect with your higher power. Stop fearing and cursing the darkness…and start lighting your candles. Journaling, meditation, prayer, and reading books about finding and expressing the healthiest part of yourself will help strengthen your connection to the voice within.
Spiritual exercise is like physical exercise; it strengthens your body and your relationship with Something Greater Than Yourself – who wants the best for you.
I welcome your comments on how to grieve the end of a relationship. Sharing your experience might help you process your feelings and find closure.
“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” – Renoir.