Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mending a Broken Heart

Break-ups are hard at any point in life, but almost everyone has been through it once or more than once. It's a part of our human experience, and helps us appreciate the fragile nature of close relationships.

What do we need when a relationship ends? How can we process what has happened? What can we do to help ourselves move through the grief?

It's important to remember that loss is always felt in direct proportion to how attached we were to that person. The more attached the two of you were, and the more your lives were intertwined, the greater the feelings of  loss you will experience.

Allow yourself to feel the loss, including the shock, the sadness, the anger, the regrets, the bargaining in your own mind about if things had only been different. All of these feelings are normal. Grief is always easier and less complicated if you deal with it at the time of the loss. Look through old pictures if you feel the need. Listen to songs that remind you of that person if you want to. Let yourself cry if you can; tears are healing.

Avoid alcohol or drugs as you are grieving your loss. It will bury your grief, and delay you dealing with the painful feelings until sometime later, when it will be more difficult to deal with. Grief therapists notice that losses that don't get dealt with at the time can show up later in that person's life, when some subsequent loss occurs and it hits doubly hard.

Activate your support system. Let your close friends and family know what has happened, and that you need them to be available to support you. It's okay to spend some time alone, but spend some time with your friends and family and allow them to lift your spirits. Work and school can be healthy distractions, too.

Reflect about the insights and lessons you may have learned from this relationship. What will you do the same in a future relationship? Will you be more attentive, more open, or choose someone with different traits? Perhaps you have learned some lessons about what is important to you in close relationships.

Take extremely good care of yourself. Eat nutritiously. Grief is heavy emotional work, so be sure to get your sleep. After a break-up is an excellent time to step up your exercise. It will help you relax, sleep better, work out anger, and get a healthy dose of endorphins. You may want to change a few things---perhaps a different hairstyle, a new outfit, or something else that boosts your self-esteem a bit.

Take your time healing. It isn't a race to get back out there and begin dating again. It's healthy to take your time developing yourself again after a break-up. Focus on your friends, your career, your family, and your interests. It's important to learn how to not be in a relationship, and be by yourself.

Loss is a part of life. Time passing helps, as well as feeling your feelings. This is the only healthy way through the journey of grief. You can work through the grief process and even grow from it.

If you are stuck, feel you are slipping into depression, or can't figure out how to move through the pain to the rest of your life, meeting even a time or two with a therapist who is trained in grief work can be very valuable in moving you forward.

Break-ups happen. Some of the challenge is finding your way through it, feeling and processing your grief, and learning from the journey along the way. The human heart is an amazing and resilient thing.

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