The Grief of a Breakup

To recognize the intense grief that a breakup can trigger, we can look at some of the things that may be lost when a marriage or relationship ends:

A companion

A housemate

Help

Sex

In-laws

Friends of theirs

Social experiences

A confidante

Daily routines

Traditions

An ally

Touch

Inside jokes

Financial support

Your imagined future

It needn’t be an unwanted breakup to grieve these losses. When a relationship ends, your world as you know it ends. Or, if it was a relationship in early stages of development, your “world as you were hoping it would be with this person” ends. The disappointment can be crushing. The absence is palpable. The loss of so many aspects of life. The dashed hopes and plans for the future.

It is possible to grieve a breakup as intensely as a death, but the people around us don’t quite get the gravity of the loss- especially if we chose to end the relationship.

Grieving a breakup requires similar supports to grieving a death. Here are a few tips to help you cope:

  1. Treat yourself kindly and gently. Like any other grief, this experience can be exhausting and confusing. You may be emotionally drained and mentally overwhelmed. This is a time to scale back on non-essential responsibilities. Take extra naps. Lower your expectations of yourself. Allow your grief to bubble up without shaming yourself. Your grief is valid and appropriate.
  2. Seek counseling. The support of a counselor during this process is invaluable. Friends and family may not understand your grief, or may quickly urge you to move on and feel better. With a professional counselor, you can express more and explore more to heal after this loss.
  3. Conserve energy. Grief is draining and will tire you quickly. As you move throughout your day and are faced with choices such as new work, social commitments, activities and requests from others, consider this at each decision point:

Will this replenish my energy? Or will this deplete it?

The same choice may replenish one day and deplete another. For instance, sometimes we really need the company of other people and connecting can restore us and strengthen us, but other times we can’t muster the effort to even talk, and time in solitude has more replenishing benefit.

  • Don’t push yourself to “move on.” It is okay if you are grieving for months. It is okay if you take a dating hiatus. It is okay if you are not open to meeting someone else right now. People will urge you to “get back on the horse,” but this grief process is essential. If and when you are ready to move on, you may experience some trepidation, but you will know that it is time. Don’t push yourself to get there.

This loss has changed your life. Of course it is okay to grieve.

Published by Angela Dora Dobrzynski

My name is Angela Dora Dobrzynski. I'm a professional counselor, and am passionate for all things personal development and human behavior. I specialize in grief and life transitions, with a special interest in health and stress psychology, emotional resilience and utilizing strengths as the basis of personal development. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Pennsylvania. I have a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Rosemont College and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Stockton University. Additionally, I hold a certificate in Holistic Health Coaching from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and was granted a certificate in NonProfit Leadership From Arcadia University’s School of Continuing Education as well as a certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from Bryn Mawr School of Social Work. My professional experience includes work in the hospice of a major local healthcare system, Women's Resource Center, The Renfrew Center, Manor College and Children’s Crisis Treatment Center. I am a member of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. In my personal life I spend time kayaking, writing, gardening and connecting with my loved ones.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: