Mourning the Loss of a Relationship

“It’s normal to feel down every once in a while. Without the hard times, how would we know when we’re in the good times?” – Inside Out

This year has taught me a lot so far, and I have mourned losses I didn’t know I’d have. I have been quiet for a while processing more of the grief in my heart, and I’m grateful to be at a much better place after a few months of feeling hurt, and my heart is full again, filled up by the mercy and wisdom of God, love, and affirmations from my husband and friends, and the sweet cuddles of my children who laugh at the silliest of things; How they inspire me to laugh without fear of the future.

My new Instagram profile pic, courtesy of Kate Yu Photography @kilakateyu

One of the most important lessons I have learned is that – things don’t happen TO me but FOR me, and I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

When I was feeling my lowest this year I started looking into counseling, and I learned that I have quite a few girlfriends who have been going to counseling for years (they are some of the sweetest, kindest, smartest, and most faithful people I know, and I would have never guessed they go to counseling regularly. I’m learning now just how important it is for everyone to go to some kind of counseling for good mental health). They recommended some amazing counselors and I have been praying for a decision to go…In the mean time, I feel incredibly blessed with my husband and good friends who have been there for me whenever life gets bumpy.

Here are some tools I have learned as I hesitate to spend a lot of money on counseling at the moment =P

1. Loss is Prevalent, and you’re not alone

Take time to grieve the loss of a relationship – there were happy memories made, loving words said, future plans made or would have been made, so it hurts to feel the emptiness of a loss. So many people choose to not think about it, or just be angry instead of sitting with the pain and mourning the loss. It is much easier to be angry than to feel sad and miserable, I get it, anger is my strongest negative emotion as an enneagram type 1. But it’s ok to cry and sit with the hurt. It takes time to mourn and move on, but sweeping those emotions under the rug won’t help. I remember I felt so depressed after my first break up in college that I got shingles (ouch!) as a 20-year-old (isn’t shingles something old people get?). Even though I was the one who broke his heart, I felt so broken as well. Knowing very well how my emotional pain shows up physically, I don’t want that to happen again, so I’m learning to manage my stress better by giving it to God every day and using the tools I have accumulated as I age to help me better live better.

2. Forgive the anger –

The other person or I (or both) were angry because our expectations weren’t met and we felt wronged. If we can’t apologize to one another, or come to a resolution after apologies are made, then the relationship sadly dissolves. I tend to blame myself when a relationship fails (oh the need for everyone to like me, how silly!), but I’m learning at the age of 35 that I’m NOT for everyone, and real confidence is knowing NOT everyone is going to like you, but you stay true to yourself anyway.

In these cases, we have opened ourselves up in a vulnerable way and have felt hurt and rejected (remember what Brene Brown has said? Vulnerability is having the courage to show up when you cannot control the outcome) by the other person. As we sit with the feelings of anger and sadness, we need to learn to forgive the other person for what made us angry and forgive ourselves for not noticing there was a problem, or the inability to fix the problem. Just because we have good intentions doesn’t mean we don’t say the wrong things sometimes. I for one say plenty of stupid things, and thankfully everyone in my inner circle (hubby, my parents, and my closest girlfriends) love and accept me for exactly who I am, phewwww.

Owning our loss, forgiving the anger we have, and forgiving the other person is the first step to healing.

3. Focus on gratitude

So cliche but SO POWERFUL! The next step is to find things to be grateful for every single single day – to wake up with a grateful heart and go to bed with one too, knowing all too well that we don’t live in a perfect and sinless world. Embrace all the good anyway, because life is too short not to, and finding positivity in life helps us tremendously in the healing process.

Now here is the slightly more challenging part – Find it in your heart to be happy and grateful for the person who is no longer in your life. Social media makes it so easy to stay connected, even when you don’t want to. So instead of being bitter (which we tend to be for a while after a loss), wish the other person well, truly wish the other person well, be grateful that person is doing well, and for the good memories that were made.

I have learned the importance of this step for my heart, and learned to watch what I say – NOTHING unkind about the other person (ok except to God and the husband when crying out in anger). If I say ugly things about the other person, I come off ugly and resentful. If I find it in my heart to forgive and be genuinely grateful, I will find the peace I long for, and find more love than I thought was possible in my heart.

4. Learn from the break-up

Reflecting on what happened helps us learn from our negative experiences, and prepare ourselves for better future relationships. Going back to my first breakup with my first ex-boyfriend in college, I was heartbroken and angry, but when those emotions calmed down, I reflected on the relationship for exactly what it was and learned lots of lessons from it. Because of the failed relationships I had, I have immense love and appreciation for my husband and strong friendships with my close girlfriends. Some people get jaded after failed relationships, but I might forever be that idealistic girl who believes marriage is forever (true for me no matter what), friendships can be forever (fortunately most of my besties have remained my besties, and I have learned to pray for my friendships and nurture them in a way I wouldn’t have known how to before failed relationships), and God’s love is unconditional and never changing.

5. Don’t take anything personally (the 2nd agreement from The Four Agreements). This is a journey called life and we are all going to mess up. Everyone messes up, so give yourself and the other person grace, and apologize when you have done something wrong.

6. If all fails, do what I did and binge watch The Real Housewives of Dallas when the kids are not home =P There is so much wisdom on relationships through the series, many were from moments of “oh I was like that”, “Yikes that was unnecessary or uncalled for or annoying” or “I totally over analyzed the way she did, darn it, just give the other person the benefit of the doubt and don’t take it personally! It had nothing to do with you girl!”

I hope this post helps you process your grief of lost relationships and move on in a healthy way. Just want to remind you that you are completely accepted, unconditionally loved, and totally forgiven by God.

“The mountains and hills may crumble, but my love for you will never end.” – Isaiah 54:10

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