Have you ever had a broken heart? I don’t mean occasional sadness, but pure grief. The kind of grief that feels like your heart has been torn out, stomped on, and thrown away. The kind of grief that feels like life will never be the same.
You are not alone. Many people have had this experience. People often describe feelings of shock, intense sadness, anger, confusion, regret, and sorrow.
A broken heart can come from many experiences: the loss of a relationship, the death of a loved one, or the betrayal of a friend. Sometimes we grief the loss of something so profoundly, it feels like our hearts are literally breaking.
The good news is that there is hope, and there are things that you can do to help yourself heal.
Let yourself grieve
Many of us are afraid of feeling our feelings. We don’t like to feel sad, lonely, or deeply hurt. So instead, we distract ourselves with other things, like work, socializing, exercise, or even alcohol/drugs. But, unless we acknowledge our hurt and loss, we don’t heal.
Reach out for support
Let other people know how you are feeling. It may be helpful to share with those who care about you. However, some people find that even though most people have had grief and loss, not everyone is a good listener. Sometimes, it is helpful to share with people who have been through similar losses. There are often support groups for people who have experienced loss through the death of a loved one through local hospice groups. Similarly, you may find support groups through your church and community regarding break-ups or divorce. You may need to reach out to a therapist to have a listening ear. But, it is not only okay to reach out, it is important. By talking about your hurt, the pain in your heart is lessened, and your grief shrinks.
Give yourself time
Many times, after a loss or heartbreak, we want to feel better right away. It is okay to be sad for a while. It is okay to give yourself time. Practicing mindfulness, and trying to stay in the moment will help you’re a great deal. You can read here, here, and here for some articles and suggestions in this area. Take one moment at a time. Little by little, the moments will add up, and you will feel better.
Try to create something
It helps to write about your loss, draw, knit, or express your feelings in other ways. But, using the right side of your brain can help you process things differently. It helps find a channel for your energy, worry, or anger. When your creation is completed, you can choose to give it away or store it somewhere to help you remember your loss. It is up to you.
It helps to do something good for others
Research tells us that often by helping others, we also help ourselves. If your life is feeling empty by the loss of a relationship, it may be helpful to volunteer somewhere that is meaningful to you. It may be somewhere like the Ronald McDonald House in your community, a hospice organization, or a nonprofit agency that is meaningful to you. It could be as simple as driving seniors on errands or helping at the local senior citizen center. Your gifts are needed in many, many places.
Find forgiveness and kindness for yourself and others
Loving kindness meditations can be very helpful and they go something like this:
May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be at peace.
May (someone you love) be happy, be healthy, and be at peace.
May (someone neutral) be happy, be healthy, and be at peace.
May (the person you grieve) be happy, be healthy, and be at peace.
May (a troublesome adversary) be happy, be healthy, and be at peace.
May everyone everywhere be happy, be healthy, and be at peace.
Repeat this meditation to yourself when you are triggered by your loss, or when you feel hopeless and forlorn. It will help you to be patient and kind with yourself and with others.
In the end, you will heal. You will feel better again. You will be able to reflect and have perspective. Your life may not be the same. But every moment is beautiful. Through the grief also often comes other rich and meaningful experiences.
May you be happy, healthy, and at peace.