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Handling Grief When Relationships End

Handling Grief When Relationships End

May 17, 202410 min read

Coping with the end of a relationship can be very difficult. Grief is the conflicted feelings you experience when there is a significant change or an end to something, and it isn’t restricted to bereavement. Unresolved grief is not only negative; it is cumulative and doesn’t just go away. Did you know there are over 40 life events that can cause feelings of loss and grief?

Relationships can end or change for a variety of reasons and can stir up a whirlwind of emotions, leaving us feeling lost, hurt, and overwhelmed. Whether it's through the death or divorce of a spouse or life partner, the end of a long-term working relationship, a romantic relationship, or a friendship, the pain can be intense and affect our mental health. Social media can make things worse, so be wise in how you use it at this vulnerable time. Avoid sharing personal information on social media as it can be misused or used against you.

When going through a tough time, I am very careful to share my personal information only with a trusted family member, friend, or colleague. Understanding the emotional impact of these endings is the first step toward moving forward and getting your life back.

When a relationship goes through significant change or ending, it's normal to experience a range of emotions, including sadness, regret, guilt, resentment, anger, unforgiveness, confusion, and sometimes even relief. These difficult feelings may come in waves, making it hard to predict or control our reactions. It is important to have suicide prevention measures in place, as we can sometimes feel life is hopeless and pointless.

It might be tempting to jump into a new relationship as a way of distracting yourself from the pain, but this can lead to developing unhealthy relationships, which don't last. For future relationships to be healthy, you need to deal with the negative thoughts and any lingering negative emotions about the past relationship.

I had a client who was devastated by the death of her very loving husband. She felt that she had lost her future and that another long-term relationship would be impossible. Another client was dealing with breakup grief and felt the same way. However, working with me on their grieving process and dealing with their unresolved grief and heartbreak, helped them to manage their negative emotions, adjust to the separation, and improve their emotional health and well-being. They, now, both have renewed hope for the future and are also in long-term loving relationships with plans to get married. To read more about what my clients say about working with me, click here.

It's important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve a relationship loss, as each person, each relationship, and the circumstances of the loss are unique. Avoid comparing your journey to the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' Five Stages of Grief, (which was actually a study of people who were dying, not grieving), or to others who are grieving. Understand that handling grief is not linear and will require patience, self-compassion, and support to get through it.

Coping with Grief and Loss in Various Types of Relationships

Each type of relationship breakdown carries its own set of dynamics and challenges when it comes to coping with grief and loss. I have clients whose relationships ended in a variety of ways: finding a fiancé had been cheating, a partner who committed suicide, a spouse who died from cancer, romantic breakups, betrayal by a trusted friend, redundancy resulting in the loss of colleagues, and moving and losing touch with special friends.

In romantic relationships, we may mourn not only the loss of the person but also the dreams and plans we had for the future. It's essential to give ourselves permission to grieve fully and to honour the memories we shared before we move forward.

Friendship breakups can be just as painful as romantic ones. Losing a friend can leave us feeling lonely and disconnected. It's crucial to acknowledge the value of friendship while also recognizing that people and circumstances change. Sometimes, letting go is the healthiest choice for both parties.

Family relationships are often the most complex to navigate when they end. Whether it's through death or falling out with a parent, sibling, or relative, the loss can be deeply felt. It's essential to set boundaries and prioritise our own well-being, even if it means stepping back from certain family members, for a time. Common challenges in family relationships include arguments about funeral arrangements and inheritance once a parent dies.

Navigating the Emotions of Ending a Romantic Relationship

Navigating the Emotions of Ending a Romantic Relationship

The end of a romantic relationship can feel like a storm raging inside us. We may swing between sadness, anger, and disbelief, wondering how things fell apart. Negative feelings and a preoccupation with what happened can make it difficult to move forward and can impact our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It's natural to mourn the loss of love and companionship, but it can also be seen as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.

One of the most challenging aspects of ending a romantic relationship is letting go of the future we envisioned together. We may have built our hopes and dreams around the partnership, making it hard to imagine life without it. However, letting go of those expectations can also be liberating, allowing us to focus on our own happiness and fulfilment.

It's essential to give ourselves time and space to process our emotions without judgement. Surrounding ourselves with supportive family, friends and colleagues can provide comfort and perspective during this challenging time. Additionally, seeking professional help, when needed, from a Grief Specialist can offer valuable guidance and support as we navigate the healing process.

Dealing with the Breakdown of Friendships

Friendship breakups can be just as painful as romantic ones, if not more so in some cases. Losing a friend can leave us feeling lonely, questioning our worth and our ability to connect with others. However, it's important to remember that friendships, like all relationships, evolve over time.

When a friendship ends, it's natural to replay past conversations and interactions, searching for clues as to what went wrong. While it's important to reflect on our own behaviour and communication style, it's also essential to recognize that friendships end for a variety of reasons, many of which are beyond our control.

Instead of dwelling on the loss, focus on nurturing yourself and the other relationships in your life, and on pursuing activities that bring you moments of peace, comfort and joy. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and support you unconditionally, even if they're not the same people you once considered friends.

Coping Strategies for When Relationships End Within the Family

Coping Strategies for When Relationships End Within the Family

Family relationships are often the most enduring and complex of all. When a family relationship ends, whether through death, estrangement or conflict, the loss can be particularly devastating. However, it's important to remember that though we can’t change what happened, we can choose our response. We have the power to choose our own path and create our own sense of belonging.

When dealing with the breakdown of a family relationship, it's crucial to prioritise your own well-being and set healthy boundaries. This may mean limiting contact with certain family members or seeking support from outside sources, such as trusted colleagues, friends, support groups or a Grief Specialist.

It's also important to recognize that healing from family trauma or dysfunction is a process. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate this complicated journey, and don't be afraid to seek professional help if needed. Remember that you are not alone, and there are people and resources available to support you on your way to healing.

Moving Forward: Healing and Finding Closure After Significant Changes or Ending of Relationships

Moving forward from a relationship changing or ending can be a gradual and non-linear process, depending on how it ended and how invested you were in it. It's important to give yourself the space you need to heal fully, without rushing or forcing yourself to "get over it." Be aware that many people may be well-meaning but may offer unhelpful advice. Be careful who you listen to. Healing from grief is a journey that is different for everyone, and it's okay to feel a range of emotions along the way.

One of the most important steps in moving forward when a relationship changes or ends is finding closure. This may involve having a final conversation with the other person, writing a letter expressing your feelings, or simply acknowledging that the relationship has run its course. Journaling can be an effective way to gather your thoughts and gain perspective. Talking things aloud with a trusted friend or a Grief Specialist can be very useful for some people. Whatever form closure takes for you, it's essential to find a sense of resolution and peace.

To help you move forward, focus on self-care and self-discovery. Take time to nurture your mind, body, and spirit through activities that build your emotional resilience and bring you moments of joy and fulfilment. Surround yourself with supportive family, friends and colleagues who lift you up and encourage you to be your best self. 

Seeking Support: Resources and Services for Coping with Grief and Loss

Seeking Support: Resources and Services for Coping with Grief and Loss

During times of grief and loss, it's important to reach out for support from others. Whether it's friends, family, or professionals, having a support network can make all the difference in navigating the healing process. You may discover that you need to widen your network and invest yourself in developing these kinds of supportive relationships, if they don’t already exist.

There are also many resources and services available to help people cope with grief and loss. Support groups, both online and in person, can provide a sense of community and understanding. Professionals like Grief Specialists can offer guidance and support tailored to your individual needs. Additionally, self-help books and online resources can provide valuable insights and strategies for coping with grief and finding healing.

Check out my FREE resources here:

The Importance of Self-Care During Times of Relationships Ending

Self-care is essential during times of grief and loss. It's important to prioritise your own well-being and make time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and spirit. This may include exercise, meditation, journaling, volunteering for a cause close to your heart, or spending time in nature. Everyone is different, so find and do what nurtures you.

It's also important to practise self-compassion and kindness towards yourself during this challenging time. Remember that it's okay to experience a range of difficult feelings and that healing is a process. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to grieve fully, without judgement or criticism.

Here are some related articles that may help:

Embracing Growth and Finding New Beginnings

While the end of a relationship can be painful, it can also offer an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. By acknowledging and processing our emotions, setting healthy boundaries, and seeking professional support when needed, it is possible to move forward after loss, and get your life back without spending years in pain and therapy. You can, then, go on to create a life that is well-lived.

Remember that endings don’t have to be the end of the road but can be the beginning of a new chapter. You can’t change what happened but you can choose your response. You can focus on what is within your control and embrace the opportunity to rediscover yourself. You can heal the past, be in the present and create a new and updated vision, pursue your passions, and forge new connections with others.

As you navigate the journey of healing, remember that you don’t have to do it alone, and it is possible to love again.

If you are not sure if you need professional help, you can book a free discovery call to find out more. Click here to arrange a discovery call.

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Grief Specialist

Ghulam Fernandes

Grief Specialist

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