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It's OK to Grieve When You Lose a Relationship

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Pain is a hard emotion we will have periods of experiencing in our lives. We encounter pain in betrayals, hurt and injury. We also undergo pain in moments of loss: losing a loved one, a job or academic opportunity or a special possession that was dear to us. However, we also are able to experience pain in losing a relationship; thus, we develop a broken heart.

A broken heart oftentimes feels unbearable to endure. When you lose a relationship — platonic or romantic — you often feel as if a piece of you left with that person. You may feel detached, distressed or lost. You may blame the other person completely for things not working out, or you wholeheartedly blame yourself. A broken heart is going through the process of grief: losing someone dear and precious to you, and learning how to live without them.

About six months ago, I lost a special someone who was dear and precious to me. I had a hard time smiling again and finding joy in things both big and small. Places I’d come to love didn’t feel like home to me anymore. And some people went from being my closest friends to complete strangers.

I lost a lot in this heartbreak, and experienced much pain and distress from it. I lost various friends and my church community. I was stalked and harassed. I was scared to be out in public due to a fear of being followed or bullied. I was drowning in symptoms of my mental illnesses. And I lost the love of my life.

My broken heart was honestly the worst pain I’ve ever endured in my life. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Yet, I was able to find hope again. I was able to reclaim my identity and find myself again. I was able to find peace and joy again, despite never believing I would. I’ve come to learn a broken heart doesn’t have to be the end of my story: it is able to be the prologue for healing and restoration.

I was inspired to write this post from a TED Talk called “How to Fix a Broken Heart” by Dr. Guy Winch. His discussion was based from research he collected for his book that has the same title. In his video, he discussed how a broken heart was similar to the grief felt when a loved one passes away. He also provided research that conferred how the experience of a broken heart was much like experiencing a drug or alcohol withdrawal; furthermore, the human brain had an increase of cortisol, which was a chemical in the brain that shoots up in times of severe distress, sadness and anxiety.

Therefore, the experience of a broken heart isn’t something that should be taken lightly. I was told by some former friends to “get over my heartbreak” and “move on.” However, doing so is easier said than done. While Dr. Winch does agree being stuck on a lost relationship is extremely unhealthy, he also agrees ignoring the pain of that loss is as unhealthy.

Therese J. Borchard from PsychCentral notes when you ignore your heartbreak, you will encounter those very same problems again. Thus, feeling the pain of the heartbreak is healthy, normal and OK. Don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise. I’ve also been told repeatedly to jump right to someone else. However, I knew that would be extremely unhealthy and foolish. I wouldn’t be healing from my heartbreak; I’d be putting a Band-Aid over it and letting it fester and worsen for someone else and for myself.

We need to allow ourselves to grieve. We need to allow ourselves to cry, to vent about it and to surround ourselves with the right people who’ll give us wise, healthy and positive advice and support to help us overcome our broken heart. I believe we also need God to help us find the healing and forgiveness we need to help us overcome our hurt and grow from it.

We honestly will be doing ourselves such an injustice in turning to anything else but our pain to deal with our pain. Giving into substances or rebounds will not help you with your broken heart. Rebounds usually don’t respect or understand your need to be alone and heal correctly, and you especially don’t want someone like that to help you in your grief. Trust me, I tried both a month after losing that person, and they only made me feel worse.

But, when I allowed myself to grieve and to listen to God and to positive people, I was able to finally find healing and forgiveness. When I let go of negative people who didn’t respect or support me in my pain, I was able to finally understand my feelings were valid, and what I was experiencing was normal.

Overcoming a broken heart is not a small feat; it takes time and energy to address pain. However, when you do face your pain, you’re able to make peace with it. You’re able to find joy and hope again. And you’re able to believe you will experience and find the right kind of love.

Unsplash image by Riccardo Mion

Originally published: February 21, 2020
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