We have all experienced the loss of a cherished relationship at some point in our lives. Maybe you are going through a loss right now. Whether it be the loss of a friendship, an intimate partner, or even a close relationship with a family member, loss is painful. The loss may leave you feeling empty, sad, uneasy, or angry. You may also experience feelings of apathy, relief, or excitement that this relationship is over. These conflicting feelings can lead to feelings of guilt, or feelings of confusion about the loss. You might not even be able to identify your emotions because you are feeling so much.
Nevertheless, if you are interested in ways that can help you cope with these uncomfortable or even painful emotions around the loss of your relationship, see the tips below.
Have some self-compassion
You are allowed to feel whatever emotions you feel at whatever magnitude you feel them. Resist thoughts like “I shouldn’t be sad” or “I can’t believe this still affects me”. Only you know the true depths of the relationship that is now over, so give yourself the courtesy to grieve however is needed.
The loss of one relationship can be seen as an opportunity to foster growth in your other relationships. Consider which relationships “fill you up” when you are with them, and remember it’s okay to lean on these relationships during this difficult time. Having a support group is a fundamental aspect of healing.
Contemplate your ideal relationship
If you consistently find yourself in similar relationship dynamics that are not fulfilling, consider which aspects you don’t like. Consider aspects you do like. The first step to finding a healthy relationship is knowing what qualities to look for and what to avoid. These thoughts will help to give you hope for future relationships and remove the focus from the lost relationship.
Do small acts of kindness for yourself.
Place notes on your vanity mirror or on the fridge that are uplifting. Especially if aspects of the relationship were toxic, it might take some time to build yourself back up. Confront feelings of guilt with thoughts of reassurance that the termination was the right thing. You deserve relationships that are safe and satisfying.
Sometimes we find ourselves in unsatisfying relationships because we stopped taking care of ourselves and started putting others needs far before our own. If you identify with this, challenge yourself to pick back up a hobby that you used to enjoy, or find a new hobby. Propel the energy from the lost relationship into creating the best, happiest version of you. You will find more happiness within yourself than you could ever find in a relationship with someone else.
Though these tips can be helpful for mild symptoms of depression after the loss of a relationship, self-help does not replace the care of a mental health professional. If you have thoughts of suicide or persistent depressive symptoms, seek professional help.
About the Author
Kelsey Vincent is an intern at The Marriage and Family Clinic. She works with couples and individuals who struggle with emotional intimacy, as well as those who find themselves perpetuating destructive patterns. Kelsey enjoys all activities in the beautiful Colorado outdoors, including camping, mountain biking, snowboarding, and slalom water skiing