• Vaughan Relationship Centre: Counselling to Empower.
Grieving the End of a Relationship

The end of a relationship is a stressful event and can cause a significant emotional crisis in life. You may go through a variety of emotions, even if the breakup was to be expected. Many people report feeling like the foundation they stand on was just pulled out from under them, a feeling of shock and despair. There is no formula to your grieving process. Some emotions that are very common, however, include:

  • Denial
  • Confusion
  • Shock
  • Despair
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Humiliation

These emotions are perfectly common, appropriate, and will support you in processing your loss.

The way we experience the end of a relationship is very similar to how we experience the death of a loved one. Therefore, the impact of your own emotions around this event can catch you off-guard and feel like a lot to deal with. The most important thing to understand in this case is that loss is not a feeling. It is a process that will lead you through both positive and negative feelings. The negative may induce feelings of rejection, bitterness, loneliness, alienation, self-blame, and more, whereas some positive elements can include relief, optimism, lightness, and peacefulness.

Going through this process can be made smoother for you if you accept that your pain is normal rather than fight it or deny its existence, and if you can acknowledge that getting through this takes time. Recovery is a journey you will have to give yourself the time to embark on. You cannot force it. A few things you can do to help yourself are:

  1. Make active decisions

As mediocre as you might feel, choose to do something about it. We encourage our clients to engage with literature on how others dealt with what they’re going through, as well as maintain their normal day-to-day routines to avoid withdrawing from your world completely. Go the gym. Spend time with friends and loved ones. Take up a new activity like knitting or hiking. Stay active and engaged.

  1. Acknowledge your pain

Confront it and allow yourself to feel it if you are in a safe space. By doing this you begin to put yourself in control again rather than being controlled by what has happened to you. You could speak about your loss with a close friend, a counsellor, or choose to write letters about or to your feelings. Meditation, seeking balance in nature, and developing new rituals to embrace a new stage in your life are all good helpers in this stage.

  1. Remember things you enjoy

The loss of your relationship may leave you feeling empty. Try to remember that you are not. Being without a partner doesn’t make you unable to feel whole in your life. Rediscover things that bring you pleasure. Get back in touch with old friends and hobbies, discover new ones, and allow yourself to selfishly explore what feels good to you.

You will reach a point – with patience – that allows you to return to things in your life you may have been neglecting or compromising on for a long time. Ultimately, this will give you a new, hopeful outlook on the future without having to run from your past.

The Role of Counselling

Counselling does not necessarily need to play a part in relationship grief recovery. In some cases, however, this kind of emotional loss can trigger underlying emotions that may hit you out of context in this situation. The traumatic events we go through in a lifetime can accumulate if not dealt with at the time and be uncovered again in an instance like this. A professional counsellor may then be able to give you the guidance and support you need to unpack these issues.