A relationship ending brings up a lot of grief. No matter how you look at it, there is going to be a lot of endings. We need to get through those endings before we can see the beginnings.
It is not just about the relationship loss. There is so much more to deal with. Financial loss, loss of seeing the children every day, property loss, moving from your home when you might not want to, which could mean a whole lot of further stress, loss of friends or family support, and the big one for many is the loss of identity and security.
Why does it feel like someone has died?
The unconscious mind does not discriminate between different types of loss and stress. Emotional stress and physical stress cause the same reaction within the body.
An increase in adrenaline, activation of the nervous system, increased blood pressure.
As humans we all behave in the same way to stress (emotional or physical).
Tight muscles, body aches and pains, loss of appetite, or increased appetite, trouble sleeping – or sleeping too much, thoughts racing, difficulty concentrating, avoidance behaviours.
What can contribute to this feeling of grief
People often judge themselves, and others on how deeply they feel the pain of the loss. Especially men. Women tend to be a little more understanding, but not always!
So asking “how long will it take me to feel happy again?”, is like asking “How long is a piece of string”.
There are so many variables.
My thought is that the resilience of the individual has a big impact. Some people can be in a very long-term relationship and be grateful that it is over, others can feel completely side swiped.
If a couple works on the relationship and understands where it went wrong and why it is ending it can make a big difference.
If you have no idea why your partner cheated or left you then that would be devastating, especially if you thought everything was ok.
There are no rules around this. Different people bring up different emotions, or triggers. It is up to us to learn from this.
I once dated a man for only a month, he was killed in a car accident, and I felt such a deep connection to this guy it took me 2 years to get over. But my mind was saying “come on, what is wrong with you, you just met this guy”.
Can our current situation – COVID-19 and social distancing – exacerbate breakup grief?
Yes, it can, but again it is an individual thing. For some people the inability to go out and see friends can have a huge impact, positive or negative!
For some the isolation and loneliness will feel overwhelming. If that is you then you need to find a way to connect, to find things to do at home that interest you or bring you some happiness?
However, for others, this can allow a person to go within and take a deep look at what went wrong. For people that take on this quiet time to reflect it can actually help the healing process.
How can we support ourselves through the grief of a breakup?
Let’s start with what NOT to do.
Don’t use alcohol or drugs to help you get through. That just prolongs the grief because your unconscious mind, and conscious mind does not have the ability to process emotions and then those difficult feelings just stay with you.
What you can do is journal, write out how you are feeling, in all its anger, hurt, frustration and sadness. Read, but choose wisely what you read. There is a wealth of information out there that can help normalize how you feel.
Meditate – research shows that finding some quiet time to just be with yourself can really make a difference to our wellbeing. Start with a 5-minute guided meditation from You Tube. It will take time to learn how to do this, and don’t expect your mind to be completely silent because it wont!
How can we know if we need professional help to deal with it?
If you are having dark thoughts about hurting yourself, please seek professional help straight away.
If you are turning to other unhelpful behaviors like drinking, gambling, porn, drugs or even serial dating then this could be an indication that you are running away from how you truly feel.
If others are telling you that you need to get help, listen to them. They may see something in you that you don’t see yourself.
If your friends are not helpful then look past them. Often friends will try and make you feel better by encouraging your to do things that wont help (like go out and get drunk, only leaving you to your misery and hang over the very next day).
Choose your next step wisely. Your actions, your words, your choices. These all impact on how you feel and how others respond to you.
Never give up, because there is always help if you look for it. You can start by joining my private FB support group Divorce, Support and a little bit of HOPE or :@The_Divorce_Coach_For_Men or watch a free webinar. You can also book in for a free call to find out how I can help you Reclaim Your Life After Divorce