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. As well as grieving the loss of your relationship, you may feel confused, isolated, and fearful about the future. But there are plenty of things you can do to cope with the pain, get through this difficult time, and even move on with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.
Why are breakups so painful?
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 move on with your life as a stronger and wiser person
Grief is a natural reaction to loss, and the breakup or divorce of a love relationship involves multiple losses:
- Loss of companionship and shared experiences (which may or may not have been consistently pleasurable)
- Loss of support, be it financial, intellectual, social, or emotional
- Loss of hopes, plans, and dreams (which can be even more painful than practical losses)
Allowing yourself to feel the pain of these losses may be scary. You may fear that your emotions will be too intense to bear, or that you’ll be stuck in a dark place forever. Just remember that grieving is essential to the healing process. The pain of grief is precisely what helps you let go of the old relationship and move on. And no matter how strong your grief, it won’t last forever.
Tips for grieving after a breakup or divorce:
Don’t fight your feelings – It’s normal to have lots of ups and downs, and feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion. It’s important to identify and acknowledge these feelings. While these emotions will often be painful, trying to suppress or ignore them will only prolong the grieving process.
Talk about how you’re feeling – Even if it is difficult for you to talk about your feelings with other people, it is very important to find a way to do so when you are grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your feelings will make you feel less alone with your pain and will help you heal. Writing in a journal can also be a helpful outlet for your feelings.
Remember that moving on is the end goal – Expressing your feelings will liberate you in a way, but it is important not to dwell on the negative feelings or to over-analyze the situation. Getting stuck in hurtful feelings like blame, anger, and resentment will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from healing and moving forward.
Remind yourself that you still have a future – When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams for a life together. After a breakup, it’s hard to let these aspirations go. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones.
Know the difference between a normal reaction to a breakup and depression – Grief can be paralyzing after a breakup, but after a while, the sadness begins to lift. Day by day, and little by little, you start moving on. However, if you don’t feel any forward momentum, you may be suffering from depression