However it happens, losing a relationship with a loved one hurts.
When a loved one dies, the finality of the relationship loss can be hard to grasp. When a person severs ties, the break can be tough to wrestle with. Either way, you must contend with goodbyes and learn to reconcile your life without them. It’s normal to want your relationship back, to want more time, conversations, and connection.
It’s also not unusual to feel disoriented by a loss you feel is unrecognized by society as worthy of grief. Loss of relationships due to divorce, breakup, or distance often are not perceived as “real” losses that cause suffering worth acknowledgment, thus compounding your pain.
All in all, living life after a loved one’s death or departure can seem unreal at first, then unimaginable, then fraught with so many emotional ups and downs that you may wonder where you even begin.
This is where self-compassion, a strong support system, and key coping skills come in. By honoring and incorporating the special impact your relationship will always have in your life, you can move forward while still creating space for the memories and influence of that connection.
The following 5 tips can help you integrate your loss into your life positively.
1. Recovery from a relationship loss begins with acceptance
Your first reaction may be to deny the realities of your lost relationship. You may want to push away the full impact of the loss. Unhealthy grief implores you to suck it up or bury distress. Unfortunately, this just leads to more pain later.
It’s crucial to grieve your own way. It’s okay to cry or yell or do neither. It’s perfectly fine to be wherever you are mentally and emotionally. Take time to honor your emotions as a first step in integrating your loss.
2. Recovery from a relationship loss includes time for self-care
Battered by memory and emotion, it may seem all you can do is get through the day. That’s totally fine. You may need to give your mind and body time to catch up to the changes. Practice deep breathing. Maintain healthy meal and sleep schedules to the best of your ability. Holding to your routines can help you feel more grounded and stay present. Do your best to rest, relax, and relieve stress as necessary.
3. Recovery from a relationship loss makes space for mindful reflection, sharing, and processing.
Be patient with yourself; observe your feelings and allow them to run their course. You don’t have to suppress them or rush through your recovery. You needn’t try to make your grief more acceptable or file it away to make others feel comfortable.
Support is key at this point. You may start to realize the varied ways your loss impacts you and your world. Having a compassionate ear and shoulder can be invaluable. The loss may affect your work life, family relationships, home life, circle of friends and future goals.
It’s okay to recognize that you may need help managing all of that. Reach out and accept help. Finding a counselor can be one of the best things you do for yourself. You are not alone.
4. Recovery from a relationship loss includes adjusting to your new normal.
Patiently and self-compassionately ease into life transitions created by your loss. You may be affected by unexpected triggers or loss reminders that may feel like setbacks. In truth, they are simply part of your unique grief process. Plan for tough moments and rough days the best you can. Prepare for feelings that arise in certain locations, or among specific groups of people as well as possible. Don’t hide from your feelings, give them the consideration you feel they’re due when you’re ready.
As you heal, you’ll be more and more able to find and apply meaning and purpose to your relationship. If you need help sorting things out, consider writing in a journal for clarity, scheduling time with your counselor, and discussing your options with a trusted confidante.
5. Recovery from a relationship loss centers on complete healing.
In time, your efforts to accept support and work through the loss will be beneficial. Healthy processing will help you integrate your loss. You can find ways to share and grieve without pressure to move on. Choose counseling that invites no shame regarding the intensity or duration of your process. It’s completely okay that sadness, anger, regret, confusion, longing, and more become the story of your relationship with your loved one.
The chronic suffering some people face, due to unprocessed pain, need not be your loss story. However, if you realize you are unable to apply these tips on your own or feel stuck in your emotional ups and downs, reach out to a professional experienced in trauma or grief counseling sooner rather than later
You can get through this and live a life changed for the better with lessons learned, but whole again.