This blog looks at the emotions we experience with the loss of a relationship. When we talk about loss we often mean the death of someone that we love. But actually our lives are full of small and not so small losses and we can experience grief when confronted with all kinds of other losses such as the loss of a relationship, loss of health in self or in a loved one, losing a job, loss of financial stability, miscarriage, retirement, loss of a much loved pet, loss of a cherished hope or dream, loss of a friendship. Even subtle losses in life can trigger a sense of grief. For example, you might grieve after moving away from home, graduating from college, or changing jobs.
A deeply painful experience
A breakup or divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotional experiences in life. Whatever the reason for the split—and whether you wanted it or not—the breakup of a relationship can turn your whole world upside down and trigger all sorts of painful and unsettling emotions.
Even when a relationship is no longer good, a divorce or breakup can be extremely painful because it represents the loss, not just of the partnership, but also of the dreams and commitments you shared. Romantic relationships begin on a high note of excitement and hopes for the future. When a relationship fails, we experience profound disappointment, stress, and grief.
A breakup or divorce launches you into uncharted territory. Everything is disrupted: your routine and responsibilities, your home, your relationships with extended family and friends, and even your identity. A breakup also brings uncertainty about the future. What will life be like without your partner? Will you find someone else? Will you end up alone? These unknowns can often seem worse than being in an unhappy relationship.
This pain, disruption, and uncertainty means that recovering from a breakup or divorce can be difficult and take time. However, it’s important to keep reminding yourself that you can and will get through this difficult experience and even move on with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.
Recognise that it’s OK to have strong and mixed feelings
It’s normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, and confused—and these feelings can be intense. You may also feel anxious about the future. Accept that reactions like these will lessen over time. Even if the relationship was unhealthy, venturing into the unknown is frightening. Give yourself permission to feel and to function at a less than optimal level for a period of time. You may not be able to be quite as productive on the job or care for others in exactly the way you’re accustomed to for a little while. No one is Superman or Superwoman. Take time to heal, regroup, and re-energise.
A period of reflection?
Try to consider this period in your life a time-out, a time for sowing the seeds for new growth. You can emerge from this experience knowing yourself better and feeling stronger and wiser.
In order to fully accept a breakup and move on, you need to understand what happened and acknowledge the part you played. The more you understand how the choices you made affected the relationship, the better you’ll be able to learn from your mistakes—and avoid repeating them in the future.
You’ll need to be honest with yourself during this part of the healing process. Try not to dwell on who is to blame or beat yourself up over your mistakes. As you look back on the relationship, you have an opportunity to learn more about yourself, how you relate to others, and the problems you need to work on. If you are able to objectively examine your own choices and behaviour, including the reasons why you chose your former partner, you’ll be able to see where you went wrong and make better choices next time.
Need some advice and support?
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!
See also: Sadness, loss and grief