These are the 5 types of grief you experience after a relationship ends

Written by Amy Beecham

 A psychologist explains the five types of relationship grief, and why it’s so important for us to hold space for our emotions when a close bond ends.  

We all remember our first heartbreak. That visceral aching and what feels like shards of glass in your chest. The tears, the frustration, the despair. It’s no wonder neuroscientists at Columbia University found that the brain regions that light up during physical pain will do the same during a break-up.

But after the initial rage and regret comes the mourning, which is perhaps the most emotionally powerful part of leaving someone you care deeply for behind.

“We rarely talk about the grief that people experience when a relationship ends or changes form,” agrees psychologist Dr Lalitaa Suglani.

In a recent Instagram post, Dr Suglani broke down the five types of relationship grief and why it’s so important for us to allow ourselves space and time to experience this stage. 

The five types of relationship grief

Break-ups have a very real effect on not just our emotional and mental health, but our physical health too. Our immune systems can be lowered, our stress levels can skyrocket and our sleep patterns are often disrupted.

But these scenarios don’t just apply to romantic break-ups; they can apply in platonic contexts, too. Breaking up with a friend can feel just as painful – if not more so – than breaking up with a partner.

1) Processing that someone who was once your best friend and intimate partner has moved on

When we lose closeness with someone we care about, it’s an extremely difficult situation to navigate.

“Relationship grief isn’t just about someone you love passing away; it’s about the grief that comes when you have to let go of an idea you had for your future. A relationship will always evolve as we grow and develop, and this can sometimes mean our needs can change in a relationship and this is why communication and understanding are so important,” Dr Suglani writes.

In these times, it’s important to prioritise your wellbeing above all. Though it might be tempting, don’t rush your healing. It’s important to hold space for these emotions and allow ourselves to process our feelings, as raw and excruciating as they may be.

2) Feeling like a failure because the relationship ended and did not turn out how you’d hoped

Even though we know we shouldn’t, most of us spend more time than we’d care to admit wondering where it all went wrong, and blaming ourselves that it did.

But it’s important to remember that relationships can break down for a myriad of reasons, some of them beyond our control. The goal is to come to terms with the ending of that era and feel positive about the beginning of a new one, no matter how long it may take.

3) Letting go of the idea of how you thought your future would look

Reconciling ourselves with what we hoped might happen is one of the most painful parts of a break-up. What about the wedding you’d pictured, the house you’d planned, all the things you were meant to do together?

Sadly, there’s absolutely no easy fix or magic bullet. It just requires time, patience and holding space for you to feel everything you need to feel. 

4) Coming to terms with no longer depending on that person and feeling alone

After a break-up, it’s common – and perfectly normal – to feel a sense of loss, not just emotionally but physically. Our partners play multiple roles in our lives: as friends, confidantes, coaches and cheerleaders, so when we lose them, it can feel as if our whole support system has come crashing down.

But even if you may feel like it, you’re absolutely never alone. Take time to reconnect with friends, activities and environments that bring you joy. Your true happiness is dependent on you and no one else. 

5) Separating from a partner after having children and letting go of an idea of how family life will look

When children are involved, separation can become even more complex. Not only do you have other people to consider, but you may spend a lot of time comparing what your family unit once looked like to how it appears now.

“Remember grief is a natural part of relationships ending and changing form,” Dr Suglani stresses. “If you are going through this please be patient and kind to yourself.” 

“Grief is also very personal. It’s not very neat or linear. It doesn’t follow any timelines or schedules. You may cry, become angry, withdraw, feel empty. None of these things are unusual or wrong. Everyone grieves differently.”

Images: Getty

Source: Read Full Article