Break ups & relationship grief
Grieving a relationship can feel dis-empowering, raw and overwhelming one minute and something completely different the next!
It’s often the feelings we actively avoid and can stay in relationships past their expiry date because we don't want to feel so much loss. It’s instinctive in us to avoid loss.
Grief is usually associated with the death of a person but really grief comes from any loss. The death of a pet, a relationship, a belief, an experience…
Where there is any loss, there is a grief process.
Relationships are the same … relationship grief plays out differently for each person but there are some common traits.
It’s easy to think relationship grief is about feeling sad and behaving accordingly and only happens when you still want the person. This is a myth, you can still grieve what you no longer want.
In my experience coaching, grief can be full of conflict and confusion. In the classic grief model, it has 5 stages sadness, denial, acceptance, anger and bargaining.
These don’t really happen in a linear fashion, you can feel a few at the same or you can be totally ok with acceptance and the next minute angry. Grief is very fluid and there is no way to grieve correctly or no right amount of time to grieve.
There are guidelines I like to offer my clients who are processing a relationship and feeling grief.
During the process know where you are at and do your best not to harm others during the process. For two reasons, knowing where you are at is empowering and reducing the harm you do to others during the process, leaves you and others in a better place. It also means you aren’t making things worse than they already are for you. Leaving a trail of destruction or hurt as you grieve your relationship, only means you have more stuff to heal after.
Like I said these are simply guidelines that help in the long run and when we are in grief, we behave reactively, it's no excuse and it’s not OK but in my experience as a coach and a person who really dislikes grieving.. we do our best and sometimes in moments that best is pretty hurtful to others and ugly.
So how can you help yourself through grief?
- Practice self-care and self-acceptance, this is not the time for your inner crtic to be leading!
- Get into a conversation with yourself about your feelings, needs and what is happening for you, as it’s happening.
- Accept your feelings and ensure that you have healthy outlets for them.
- Accept the up’s and down’s as they happen and support yourself instead of acting out.
- Mind your eating/drinking/unhelpful habits, focus on whats good about life and you accept this too shall pass, it always does.
- Acknowledge if a current hurt is triggering a deeper hurt.
- Get ok with not being ok at times and with feeling what your feeling.
Feelings matter, however, they aren’t facts.
That means just because you are angry doesn’t mean so and so is to blame … or just because you accept its over doesn’t mean you won’t feel sad … or just because you're happy it’s over doesn’t mean you won’t consider ways it could have worked.
One thing that I think is super important is to avoid making any life-changing choices until the dust has settled for you, emotionally speaking and physically speaking.
Even though we all actively try to avoid grief, running from it or pretending it’s not happening doesn’t reduce it, it simply prolongs its process.
When we grieve relationships we grieve a lot more than a person, we grieve who we wanted them to be, who they really were, the good times, the bad times, the conflicts, the wrongness in them, the wrongness in us and the possibility we saw in them and in the relationship.
It hurts and that is ok, it will also be insightful and life opening. Take it moment by moment and the process continues, those good moments get longer and longer.
Now is the time to take heaps of self-care, surround yourself with supportive and healthy people and reflect on what you want and what needs healing.
This is your opportunity to give to yourself some of the energy you gave to the relationship, this is your opportunity to come home to yourself and build a solid sense of who you are. This is your opportunity show up for yourself.
Please let me know your thoughts, Id love to hear your advice to someone grieving a relationship!