Saturday, September 13, 2014

Help for Breakup Pain

A few years ago, I watched the largest wildfire in Colorado history come over the mountains and into our city. Homes were lost. Lives were lost. After the fire, all you could see for acres in one prestigious neighborhood were ashes and the remains of solid, brick chimneys.

It was devastating.

Natural disasters are harsh and hard to deal with. So are breakups. Whether you are dealing with a dating relationship breakup or a divorce, they often feel like the internal equivalent of a disaster in nature, only it's on the inside of you; it's a "emotional disaster."

So it’s over. Then what?

You start to assess your losses. You stand and look at the landscape of your life and see the loss of love, the loss of companionship, the loss of a dream. Perhaps he was the one you thought you'd marry and now that idea has died. Or, you weren't even dating that long but you really connected with this person; you wonder if you will ever find anyone like him again.

Then, there are all the emotions to deal with--sadness, anger, confusion, feelings of rejection and more.

But some people avoid their emotional pain. Why? For one thing, as Mr. Griffen said to Annie in the movie We Are Marshall, “Grief is messy.”

I agree. It is messy. Mascara runs down your face when you cry, your eyes get puffy and your nose gets red. Your emotions fluctuate like the highs, lows and unexpected turns of a roller coaster ride. It’s not pretty. But then again, neither is a rainstorm in springtime when the roads flood and the mud slides.

But grieving, like spring— the shoulder between the dead of winter and the glory of summer—lasts only for a season.

If you are going through a bad breakup and want to get over it, it’s important to know what grief is, why it’s important to process it, how to go through it.
What is grief?

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Grieving? For a breakup? What’s the big deal? I mean, you just pick up the pieces and move on, right?” I have learned that “grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind” and that it is okay; it’s necessary. Grieving a loss is not just for the loss of a loved one through death, but for other losses as well.

Why deal with breakup grief?
The pain won’t just go away if you ignore it. In fact, it is widely known that holding back emotions or not dealing with them can lead to increased physical stress and even physical illness.

You may have felt the shock of someone you loved unexpectedly decided to call it quits or numbness when you’re overloaded with emotions and seem to short circuit inside. Perhaps a feeling of denial has come over you. However grief manifests in your life, eventually the full impact of the loss will surface. But you can eventually come to terms with it and find peace.

Getting unstuck
A loss of significance—a big loss—can get stuck in your heart if it is not processed. When your self esteem falters, and you feel like it’s always midnight, and you hold it all in, the pain can pile up like emotional garbage.

It’s been said that if you don’t grieve well you grieve all the time.

While you may put on a good front for friends and coworkers, inside the lingering sadness remains. That’s why it’s so important to grieve losses—to unblock your frozen heart so you can feel better, find joy, and live a life of emotional freedom, serenity and love.

How to express your grief
Grieving a loss is not a linear process.  There is no right or wrong order in which it must be done.  Processing loss can circle around a few times or wash over you like an ocean wave. When the waves of sorrow come, ride them out; they will not destroy you. Eventually the waves that once pounded you so hard will have less and less impact, and finally recede.

Everyone heals in their own way and their own timing because love and loss is unique for each person. Here are some ideas on how to process your pain and release your sadness through grieving.

Acknowledge your loss. Getting through this season of grief and sadness begins by acknowledging that a loss has happened. Whether you left, he left, or it was a mutual agreement, something that was there is now gone.  

Ask for help. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you do what you cannot do on your own. With His power, emotions expressed will begin the flow, unclogging your blocked heart. In time you will get unstuck and move from the darkness of loss and pain into the sunlight of restoration and wholeness.  

Let yourself be sad. In his book, Broken, Tim Baker says, “Sorrow is entirely underrated.” I have to agree. “Sometimes,” he continues, “we feel that crying is showing weakness and that real Christians, if they’re truly saved, would never feel sorrow or cry…” Nothing could be further from the truth. Tears are a cleansing emotional release from a wellspring deep inside of us that need to get out. Tears are part of unblocking our inner stuckness and pain.

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