10 Healthy Tips for Grieving the End of a Relationship

Healthy Tips for Grieving Relationships

Whether you ended the relationship yourself after serious self-reflection or you never saw it coming, breaking up is hard. It’s normal to feel a sense of profound loss, especially if you’ve been in the relationship for a long time or you thought you’d be together forever.

Unfortunately, there are no instruction manuals to tell you how to grieve a relationship. However, understanding the grieving process and engaging in regular self-care can make it a bit easier to cope with.

Understanding the Stages of Grief in Breakups

A breakup can trigger the grieving process just like any other sense of loss. Even though no one has died, you’ve lost the future you may have planned on. The stages of grief after a breakup include:

  • Stage 1: Denial: When the breakup first occurs, you might not yet want to believe it. You understand logically that it’s ended, but you might still have hope that you’ll be able to get back together.
  • Stage 2: Anger: As reality sets in and denial fades away, you’ll likely feel angry. You may direct it toward your ex-partner, the world, or even yourself. It’s your reaction toward unrealized expectations of what your relationship should have been.
  • Stage 3: Bargaining: The anger fades eventually, and you may start thinking about ways you could repair the relationship. You might appeal to a higher power, change your behavior, or do anything else to convince your ex-partner to return to your relationship.
  • Stage 4: Depression: It will become clear that there is no turning back the clock at some point in your grieving process. You can’t have what you once had before. For many people, this gives way to the grief stage of depression. You might feel hopeless or experience sleep disruptions. It can feel like the lowest point in your life without any light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Stage 5: Acceptance: Eventually, you’ll come to terms with the loss of your relationship. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be sad that you broke up with your ex-partner. It simply means you’ve accepted the reality of the situation and you’ve turned your attention toward moving on instead of trying to get back what you’ve lost.

There’s no set timeline for how long you’re allowed to grieve. Likewise, it’s not uncommon to slide back in stages from time to time as you try to grapple with your relationship loss.

10 Healthy Self-Care Tips When Grieving the End of Your Relationship

With loss comes grief, and with grief comes an immense need for self-care. As you embark on your healing journey, it’s normal to go through ups and downs. These self-care tips help you keep your body healthy and your mind focused on processing your new situation so you can come out of your breakup ready to move forward with your life.

1. Have Compassion for Yourself

It’s easy to be hard on yourself after a breakup. You might think it’s all your fault or that you don’t deserve happiness. However, beating yourself up over it isn’t going to help you heal. When you’re being tough on yourself, stop and ask yourself if you’d treat a friend or family member with the same criticisms. Chances are, you wouldn’t. You are just as deserving of that compassion you’d show others in your situation.

2. Let Yourself Feel Your Feelings

Bottling your feelings away is the last thing you should do when they feel overwhelming. Let yourself feel sad, angry, confused, frustrated, or anything else. It’s a good time to practice mindful meditation to embrace your feelings. Once you feel them, you’ll find it easier to let them go in the long run.

3. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

You might not feel like eating, staying hydrated, or sleeping enough. Conversely, you might be binging pints of ice cream like nobody’s business and sleeping far longer than usual. Now is the time to invest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. After all, your mental health depends on your physical health.

4. Take a Time Out

Right after a breakup is not the time to make permanent decisions. This is especially true if you just ended a long-term relationship or marriage that has caused your entire life to change. Give it a few months before deciding to move, quit your job, or jump into a new relationship, so the emotions can fade and you’ll know you’re making a calm, well-thought-out decision.

5. Set Boundaries With Your Ex

Depending on the relationship, you might not be able to make a completely clean break and walk out of each other’s lives. If you have to maintain some semblance of contact, such as if you share children, a business, or assets, set the boundaries early on. These may include only discussing the children or not talking about future romantic endeavors with other people.

6. Stay Sober

Alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs might help you escape the pain of a fresh breakup short term, but they also prevent you from coping. The grief process is painful, but you have to go through that pain to come out the other side. Opt for healthier coping mechanisms instead, like pursuing a hobby or spending time with friends.

7. Turn to Your Friends and Family

Your loved ones are your greatest support system, and they’re there to help. They act as trusted confidants during this tumultuous time. They’re there to listen when you need to talk. Plus, isolation can actually make you feel worse by raising cortisol levels.

8. Do Something You Love Daily

Each day, carve out some time for you to do something you love. You might not feel like it at first, but it’s important that you find time for joy in your life. It can be anything, from gardening to taking a nice bath after a long day at work.

9. Create a New Routine

If you were in a long-term relationship with someone you lived with, the breakup can change virtually every aspect of your life. Even if you didn’t live together, you may have had a routine surrounding seeing and talking to each other. Create a new routine that focuses on you and your needs. Studies show habits take an average of 66 days to form. The more you stick to your routine, the easier it becomes.

10. Reflect on Your Relationship

Now is the perfect time to reflect on your relationship and how it went. Find the silver linings in it and learn more about how you behaved. Journal about the ups and downs. Plan what you’ll do in the future to strive for fulfilling relationships in the future.

Seeking Support Post-Breakup

You don’t have to go through a breakup alone. In fact, you shouldn’t. Your social support system is there to lean on during your hard times. Open up to them and honestly let them know how you feel.

If you don’t feel like you have anyone in your life you can turn to right now, you can find a new support circle. Support groups for grief are common, especially in the day and age of the internet. It’s possible to find groups virtually that can help you come to terms with your breakup. Talking to others who are currently experiencing your situation can help mitigate those feelings of being alone.

If your grief feels like too much to overcome on your own, you can also seek support from licensed counselors. They can teach you coping strategies and help you navigate confusing or painful thoughts.

Breakups Hurt, But You Can Come Out the Other Side Stronger Than Ever

Breaking up is never easy or fun. Even if you choose to end a relationship, it’s normal to feel a profound sense of loss. Those first few weeks or months after ending a significant relationship can feel impossible. However, with time the ache will begin to subside. You can come out from your grief stronger than ever and ready to take on the rest of your life. The sun will come out again after the storm.

If the storm feels overwhelming and is adversely impacting your daily function, our experts at Restore Mental Health may be able to help. Reach out anytime.