It is never easy when a marriage or other significant relationship ends. Whatever the reason for the split – and whether or not you wanted it – the break-up of a long-term, committed relationship can turn your whole world upside down and trigger all sorts of painful and unsettling feelings.
But there are things you can do to get through this difficult time. Even in the midst of the sadness and stress of a divorce or break-up, you have an opportunity to learn from the experience and grow into a stronger, wiser person.
Why do break-ups hurt so much, even when the relationship is no longer good? A divorce or break-up is painful because it represents the loss, not just of the relationship, but also of shared dreams and commitments.
Romantic relationships begin on a high note of excitement and hope for the future. When these relationships fail, we experience profound disappointment, stress, and grief.
Everything is disrupted: your routine and responsibilities, your home, your relationships with extended family and friends, and even your identity.
A break-up 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 often seem worse than an unhappy relationship.
Recovering from a break-up or divorce is difficult. However, it’s important to know (and to keep reminding yourself) that you can and will move on. But healing takes time, so be patient with yourself.
Tips for grieving after a break-up or divorce:
Do not fight your feelings – It is normal to have lots of ups and downs, and feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion.
It is 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 are 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. Journaling 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. It’s hard to let these dreams 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.
Support from others is critical to healing after a break-up or divorce. You might feel like being alone, but isolating yourself will only make this time more difficult. Do not try to get through this on your own.
Reach out to trusted friends and family members. People who have been through painful break-ups or divorces can be especially helpful. They know what it is like and they can assure you that there is hope for healing and new relationships.