How to Navigate When You Are Experiencing a Relationship Loss

Hand Holding Compass

Losing a relationship can be especially difficult. It’s a life changer. It helps to realize that the first few days, weeks or even months may be the most difficult until you establish a new routine that feels comfortable. Even then, there may be times when melancholy sets in or you feel the loss more profoundly. Whether you were the one that initiated the breakup or it was initiated by your former partner, change is part of the equation. Change can feel uncomfortable if you wanted the breakup or even if you know it is for the best.

Permission to Grieve

It can be a relief to recognize that you are experiencing loss and give yourself permission to be sad. A relationship has ended. You are facing the stages of grief and mourning. Going through them is necessary if you are to heal.

There are stages of mourning a loss: denial, bargaining, withdrawal, depression, guilt, relief, anger and acceptance. You may feel rejected or guilty or lonely and sad. You may experience emotional swings: Elated one moment at your new found freedom or overwhelming sadness the next. In time your mood and emotions will even out.

Recognize that getting through the next few months may be tough but not impossible. You will feel sad. In the circumstances, sadness is OK. Recognizing your loss and feeling your feelings is part of navigating your loss.

Navigating Grief

What you do affects how you feel. Navigating a relationship loss requires focusing on taking care of yourself, seeking social outlets and connecting with friends and family. Do things that help you feel better: Working out, going for a walk, calling a friend or going to a movie. Know that physical activity helps your body and mind feel better.

Let Yourself Feel

Your emotions may swing. You may feel joy and sadness or happiness and guilt almost simultaneously. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t let yourself think that you shouldn’t be happy, that you shouldn’t laugh.

Talk About Your Loss

It’s important not to bury your feelings. Talk about them with trusted friends.

Plan Ahead

Make a list of the things you enjoy. Possibly there are activities that you ceased doing when you were with your former partner because he/she didn’t enjoy them. Now is the time to recognize that you can engage in those things and pursue activities that make you happy. Decide which you want to take part in and which are best put off for awhile. Allow yourself to face life your own way, in your own time. A checklist might help. Knowing what you will be doing takes away some of the pressure and brings a sense of moving forward.

Know that you may be blindsided by emotional triggers like finding a letter from your former mate or seeing someone that used to be a friend to both of you. When that happens… pause, breathe and let yourself feel, and go on. Know that this is a time in your life that will pass. Things will change.  Think about where you will be a year from now.

Start a New Tradition

Most of us find change to be difficult. But change has happened. Your former schedule may not work for you anymore. Don’t be afraid to make changes. Get creative. Recognize that you have learned some things from being in the relationship. It wasn’t all bad or all good. You have gained some things….maybe knowledge of what you don’t want in your next relationship. You may have lost some things……but some of those things are better gone.


Ask for Help When You Need It

Navigating when you are experiencing a relationship loss is a struggle. If people offer to help, let them. If talking about your feelings or reminding friends and family that you are having a rough time isn’t enough, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Join a support group. Contact a professional counselor. Your struggle is real, and there’s no shame in needing support while you live through it. Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes and getting a new perspective can be valuable.

Successful Navigation

Nobody said it would be easy but you have strengths and you are able to use them. Surviving when you are experiencing a relationship loss is possible. Combine mourning with action. Let yourself recognize your loss and talk about your grief. Plan to do only what you feel up to. Set reasonable boundaries. Start some new and affirmative habits and adapt old ones. Focus on what you can do. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Tomorrow is a new day. Sadness fades with time. We get through the hardest times in our lives and the old saying, What does not kill us makes us stronger absolutely does make us stronger and wiser. Although you may not think so now,  you will get through this and someday be happy again. Trust that you will heal. A better day is coming.