I don’t know how you feel.
I can only remember how I felt when it happened to me.
And it sucked.
I’m not going to tell you to feel better, because it’s not time for “better” — yet.
Because sometimes it’s not OK.
Perhaps such a statement elicits a sigh of relief, a ping of anxiety, or maybe you’re totally appalled.
Either way: Stay with it. Root yourself there.
Here’s the thing ...
Despite the universality of loss and pain, we know very little about recovery from it and, oddly, the acceptance of it. Navigating soul-aching emotional remorse is a misunderstood process that most of us have very little idea how to respond to.
Correction. We do have a universal response to pain. And it sounds like this:
“Don’t feel bad.”
“You just need to keep busy.”
“Time heals all wounds.”
“Pull yourself up by the bootstraps.”
Screw that. I’m here to tell you: Feel bad. Seriously, no rush. Take a minute right where you are.
Truth: most of the condolences you hear after you’ve been struck by life are rational and intellectual but emotionally void. How often have you heard “don’t feel bad,” when the relationship ended, the doctor had negative news, the lay off finally happened, or the car broke down — again?
“Don’t feel bad” is dismissive. It is unintentional, but it diminishes your own, your lover’s, friend’s, family’s, appropriate, valid emotions. Being infused with sadness is all about a broken heart, not a broken mind.
And you can’t cure a broken heart with your head. It’s simply the wrong tool.
This one you’ll have to feel your way through.
Loss monumentally shifts everything in your life.
Enough so that you and others will want to apply “smarts” to push through those cataclysmic feelings in a jiffy.
Over-intellectualizing your pain (or anyone else’s for that matter) is a type of avoidance. The loss is too unnerving, too uncomfortable — so you bury it under a flurry of distractions and quick dismissals. Over time, this unresolved pain is cumulative and will resurface with the sole task of dismantling you.
Don’t fall prey to the ole’ adage “time heals all wounds.”
It’s what you do with that time that helps you heal. Repair.
Choose a new approach.
Choose completion rather than avoidance.
Here’s the doozy of ‘em all: When you give yourself and others permission to be upset, you pave the path to steadfast “completion.” You recognize you have the right to feel upset from time to time no matter how loved ones react.
You understand the pain of the loss/change will sting LESS in the long-run when you embrace it’s “OK-ness” in the short-run.
And if your particular loss this time around is the loss of a relationship?
Maybe the relationship was mostly rewarding.
Maybe you spent a portion of it mascara streaked and curled up in a ball crying.
Or perhaps it was problematic from the get-go.
Regardless, when it ends, you are left reaching out for someone who used to be there
OR who has never been there and still isn’t.
It can feel shitty.
Sometimes it’s not F #$@’ing OK.
And that's OK!
So feel lousy and as you begin to recover, you can start sorting through what worked and what didn’t in the relationship.
But what if weeks go by, then months, and you still feel as if you’re wandering around in a thick, gray fog? Have you stumbled into the black hole of grief never to return?
Give it about six to nine months. It often takes that long after a serious relationship for you to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding your sense of self.
Whether it be a romantic relationship, family, friends, health, finances – there are very few vistas that grief will not infest.
When it does:
Steal the courage to allow the pain to surface.
Be there with it.
Then commit to letting it go.