10 Useful Tips on How to Grieve a Breakup
In This Article
The death of a relationship shatters your world. It isn’t just your hopes and dreams that disappear overnight, it’s also your sense of self. No matter how independent you were, you now have to disentangle that person from your mind as part of how to grieve a breakup.
Going through a breakup is one of the most challenging experiences anyone can face. It is natural to feel overwhelmed with emotions and have difficulty processing the loss. In this article, we will explore different ways to cope with the grieving process after a breakup and move towards healing.
Should you expect grieving after a breakup?
Grieving a breakup is a perfectly normal experience even if it is highly painful. Your mind will experience a whirlwind of emotions as it resists the change that breakups necessarily bring about.
Deep down, you are also facing the pain associated with failure and abandonment. Even if the breakup was mutual or led by you, your inner critic will go into an endless spiral that can lead to depression.
Many people refer to stages of grief after a breakup as a framework to process grief. The relationship grief stages go from shock to anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance, as detailed in this model of the stages.
The stages of grief after a breakup is modeled on psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s model for how people dealt with loss from death. Interestingly, there is some debate today as to whether the model really helps people.
As scientist Hilda Bastion writes in her article challenging the 5 stages of grief, not everyone relates to the stages of grief in a relationship. Moreover, grief isn’t something to be cured. Instead, it’s something we learn to live with and adapt to.
Similarly when learning how to grieve a breakup. That means working through the emotions as well as what the experience can teach us.
The impact of working through breakup grief
When grieving a relationship, it’s tempting to simply get onto the rebound train and pretend it never happened. The danger with that is that we never break our cycles of “bad” relationships because we never learn.
On the contrary, how to grieve a breakup means facing the pain. Only by experiencing it, and understanding it can we hope to let it go.
10 recommendations on how to grieve a breakup
Grief and relationships are part of life but you can make things easier for yourself by accepting that pain is how we grow.
1. Embrace emotions
We naturally resist pain because we think that’s how it will go away. The irony is that it only accentuates the suffering.
An alternative, as an assistant clinical professor in psychiatry at the University of California explains in her article on Radical Acceptance, is to accept the pain. You can then breathe into it and give it space.
With time, it will lose its hold over you.
2. Mourn your old self
A powerful way to move through breakup grief is to say goodbye to who you were in your past relationship. You can even design a ritual to get rid of old things or simply journal your goodbyes to your old self.
3. Rewrite your story
How to grieve a relationship is about knowing what story you want to tell that will help you. It’s tempting to mask our pain by writing about the silver linings.
Nevertheless, a more therapeutic approach is to write your story such that you describe the pain and use it to grow.
4. Review lessons learned
Discovering how to grieve a breakup means realizing that your ex gave you insight into what you want for the future.
In other words, what will you do differently next time?
Related Reading: 15 Lessons Love Has Taught Us
5. Take time out
When facing breakup grief, it’s important to avoid bottling it up. A useful way to do that is to schedule moments during your day to let your emotions out whether that means crying, shouting or jumping up and down.
6. Reach out to friends and family
Grieving over a breakup can be a very lonely experience and we can get lost in depression. Make sure you don’t let that happen to you by talking as much as possible to friends and family.
How to grieve a breakup means noting both the activities that make you feel good and those that make you feel worse. Pin that list where you can see it every day as a reminder to choose the supportive activities.
8. There’s nothing to fix
Most people advise you to “think positive” and “get busy” when grieving a breakup.
Nevertheless, the pain does exist. So, instead of giving yourself a hard time that you’re not moving on quickly enough, be compassionate and accept that this takes time.
Watch this insightful video for more tips on how to practice self-compassion:
9. Be kind to yourself
How to grieve a relationship involves reminding ourselves that things go wrong in life and we make mistakes. This will help you soften the inner critic that often berates us during these times.
Related Reading: What Is Self Love?
10. Calm the mind
Learning how to grieve a breakup is also about using the body. Why not try some of these simple relaxation techniques including breathing and muscle relaxation?
If you still find that your emotions are overwhelming you and you can’t seem to get out of bed, reach out to relationship counseling to get guidance and support.
Commonly considered questions
Breakups can be a difficult and painful experience, leaving many people feeling lost and overwhelmed with questions. Let’s answer some of the most commonly asked questions about breakup and grief, including what defines the grieving process, and what connects grief to breakups.
What defines the post-breakup grieving period?
Grieving over a breakup is a very different experience for everyone. This is partly because we deal with pain differently but also because we all view breakups differently.
As a result, the time it takes can vary from weeks to months.
How are breakups and grief related?
Grief and relationships go together because breakups can cause grief. In essence, anything that creates an overload of emotions and loss of identity can be compared to losing someone to death.
Embracing breakup grief and moving forward
Understanding how to grieve a breakup starts with embracing the emotions and being kind to yourself. As you reach out to friends and family and use your self-care routine, you’ll find yourself slowly releasing the pain.
If it all feels like too much, relationship counseling can guide you to rediscover the new and stronger you.
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