Heartbreak is a particularly excruciating type of pain. That’s because it’s connected to the loss of what was most valuable in our lives.
Romantic love brings many things, including joy, meaning, direction, and comfort. Each person we love adds something unique to the mix; be it their particular take on life, the in-jokes we shared, the activities we enjoyed together, or the lifestyle we cherished.
Heartbreak can knock us flat
Losing the person we love means losing all that they brought to our lives. The loss is so enormous that we’re left reeling.
We stumble around in a mental fog, shocked and confused by the sudden absence of something we couldn’t imagine living without.
We finally emerge from our delirium, and that’s when the pain hits. It’s agonizing and relentless. We can’t ignore or deny it. It pounds against our hearts; a brutal rhythm hammering home how much we’ve lost. We’re knocked flat on our asses by the force of the blows.
But somehow, most of us manage to survive heartbreak. We grieve, we mourn, we cry, we rage, we question everything, we rail against the unfairness of it all. Then gradually, eventually, we get back on our feet. We let go. We learn big life lessons. We gain perspective. We find a modicum of peace. We resume our lives, a bit older and hopefully wiser. Or not.
When the grief of heartbreak persists
Sometimes, for some people, it’s more challenging to grieve and let go. For these individuals, their grief is complicated. Perhaps it has something to do with the particular relationship; maybe it’s associated with something that happened in their past. These people struggle with the loss for longer than most. They wrestle with ambivalence. They suffer a lot. Some of them might benefit from counseling. Some are just on a different schedule than the rest of us.
Having had my own experience of heartbreak, I remember what a huge relief it was when I finally got to the other side. I couldn’t imagine spending a minute more feeling that awful. I chose to surrender to the experience. I accepted the end of the relationship and although I dabbled in the fantasy of a reconciliation, I refused to entertain any real hope for it. I couldn’t risk doing anything that might prolong the agony.
Allowing yourself time to grieve
Instead, I allowed myself to feel all the feelings. That enabled me to get through it as quickly as possible (although not quickly enough, by my reckoning). I understand that this was my journey and I can’t compare it to anyone else’s experience.
Heartbreak is inevitable. If you live long enough, you’ll encounter it. Maybe you already have. In my mind, the depth of the pain is a reflection of the beauty of the love that was shared.
My hope for all of us is that we get through it with the minimum of suffering and come out stronger and perhaps even smarter than before.
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