5 Coping Strategies To Deal With All-Encompassing Breakup Grief

Photo: unsplash / Steven Aguilar
How To Get Over A Breakup And Deal With Grief After The Loss Of A Relationship
Heartbreak

The loss of a relationship leads to grief much like that after experiencing a death.

At some point in life, you will experience grief and loss.

Unfortunately, no one is excluded from experiencing losses and it can be a very difficult road to travel in life.

Grief doesn't only occur after a death. We experience grief way more often than one might think — for example, after the loss of a relationship.

When it's the end of a relationship, you'll want to know how to get over a breakup so you can move on.

Breakup grief and relationship loss can be challenging to navigate because it is often complex and there are many reasons why it happens. And, often, it can be very difficult to figure out how to deal with grief after a breakup.

RELATED: The 5 Not-So-Pretty (But Totally Normal) Stages Of Breakup Grief

Relationship loss is often minimized in our society. There is an expectation to just know how to get over someone and move on.

But you can't always just move on after a breakup.

It's challenging when you're going through the stages of grief brought about by the loss of a relationship, especially if it was significant.

Friends and family members are most likely pressuring you to start looking for the next relationship far sooner than you are ready.

But don’t give in! It is better to take time for yourself and to not be pressured to move on, too fast.

Dealing with grief and grieving a loss at your own pace is an important step to take, which allows you to find your way to a sense of freedom and peace.

Avoiding the grieving process can result in denial and more confusion. You will begin to feel stuck. The loss of a relationship is a time filled with conflicting feelings and emotions.

If you can, try to pause in the emotional moment and make space for your grief.

Here are 5 coping strategies to get over a breakup and deal with grief and loss.

1. Practice 'The Pause'

Losing a relationship comes with so many emotions and feelings. Whether the end of a relationship was a joint decision or made by one person, it is still a loss and is still painful.

Pausing means creating mental and emotional space. Listen to your thoughts and notice the accompanying emotions. Allow what may come up to surface and sit with it.

Although this may feel uncomfortable for a moment, the emotion and thought will quickly pass if you just observe and do not engage it.

2. Feel your emotions

Emotions shift and change. The loss of anything — big or small — will bring up emotions. These emotions can range from sadness, worry, guilt, anger, and even anxiety.

All of these emotions are normal when there is a loss, even if it was expected. Let the feels come without judging yourself for having them. The in-the-moment emotions you feel are valid.

Most emotions will pass on their own and in their own time.

3. Don’t make life-changing decisions

It is important to make space for grieving and allowing yourself to experience these emotions — but don’t allow it to derail your day.

It is best to keep up your normal routine and schedule. Due to shifting emotions, it is also wise to not make extreme or life-changing decisions like, for example, moving across the country.

4. Let go of judgments

This is a time to let go of self-criticism and making negative self-judgments. It is very hard to lose a relationship and the healing process will involve several stages — some are experienced repeatedly.

As you heal, try not to be overly critical of yourself or about your previous partner. Instead, focus on what you valued about that person and the good things that came from being in that relationship.

5. Accept the new normal

As you begin to accept the changes that come with loss, life will begin to feel more normal again. Your life will begin to be filled with other things and other people. You will find yourself thinking less and less about the person the grief and loss of the relationship.

However, it is not simple to move towards acceptance and takes time. But you will begin to find that life is enjoyable again. You will notice you are healing and begin to feel hopeful about life.

Discovering a new normal may take a while. But, as you learn how to deal with a breakup and adjust, you will notice you have an interest in life and a desire to connect with others again.

These steps are not necessarily in chronological order but you reach each one as you grieve through the stages of a breakup. It will take time to re-organize your life around what is now different.

This is the hardest part of losing a relationship — often our life is oriented around that relationship and, one day, it suddenly isn’t anymore.

RELATED: How To Get Over A Breakup And Move On In 5 Steps (Even When It Feels Impossible)

Grief from a relationship loss is different from the grief caused by death.

It can be very difficult to overcome the loss of a relationship because this loss is different than the loss that comes with death. It is so hard to see the person you had spent so much time with no longer a staple in your life.

You are no longer together. This thought can consume your thoughts and bring up more emotions and pain.

The primary loss is the death of the unit. The grief of this loss feels profound. You lived your life in tandem. Now, you live your life without that person. It feels like a part of you has died.

And that is more accurate than not, because of the merger that you had with your loved one. The grief is deep.

The secondary losses draw the picture of your lives together:

  • Loss of income
  • Loss of identity
  • Loss of dreams for the future
  • Loss of faith
  • Loss of confidence
  • Loss of financial security
  • Loss of a support system

The grief is deep and painful, because of all these losses. Even though the grief may be more intense, the coping strategies remain the same.

Bereavement groups run by hospices can be a helpful coping strategy, too.

Know that the path to healing usually is longer when the loss of the relationship has been through death. Just knowing this can normalize what you’re experiencing.

Losing a person you had spent so much time with, and now not having them in your life at all, is hard.

You are no longer together. You are no longer "an item." Remember that it takes time to adjust to this change. After you’ve split with your partner, it can be very challenging to see that person from a distance in the early days.

At these times, it helps to pause and gently shift your focus. Stay in the present moment. Recognize that things are different now, even though you may very much wish you could go back to before the relationship was lost.

And, yes, it sucks. But, that doesn’t mean it will always be this way. Your life gets better with enough space and time. Staying caught in the emotion and the thought of how different it is now and how much you want to go back in time is not going to help you.

Focus on the present and how you choose to live this moment. Moment by moment. Day by day. With time, you will be able to move on.

There are moments when it can feel so overwhelming and so very stressful. It can be really hard to be motivated to go to work or other routines like school. So give yourself a lot of grace and understanding as you grieve losing the relationship.

Many of my clients find it helpful to journal their feelings and thoughts about the relationship. It’s also a good way to release any held grudges and personal hurts about the relationship.

Journaling allows for processing and closure. You can express your feelings as you reflect on the relationship and what happened.

Most of all remember that you will get through this, even though it hurts so much right now. You won’t always feel this way. You will again become open to new possibilities and even new relationships.

This can be a difficult time. However, talking through your thoughts and feelings can help you gain a new perspective and a renewed hope for the future.

RELATED: 11 Relatable Stages Of Being Completely & Utterly Single That Women Go Through After A Breakup

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Marty Dennen MA, LCPC, SEP has been a professional counselor for over 25 years who practices from a body-centered, somatic framework and specializes in eating disorders, childhood trauma, dissociative disorders, and mood disorders. If you are struggling to overcome the grief and loss of a relationship, talk to one of Life Care Wellness' qualified therapists today.

This article was originally published at Life Care Wellness. Reprinted with permission from the author.

Author
Expert