Going through a break up can be traumatic. Similar to other traumas, like the death of a loved one , break up can cause immense and long-lasting grief. But how do we mourn these losses, especially when the person may still pop up on social media or be connected with friends or colleagues.
In what ways are breakups like grief?
Similar to death, we carry the grief and inescapable pain of breakups with us for months, even sometimes for years. When people talk about a breakup, they often use the same language as when someone dies. I think it’s because we have a relatively limited range of words for communication when it comes to loss. Often, with a breakup and when someone dies, we look for closure because we’re uncomfortable with sadness. In this way, the losses are similar.
We’re losing someone who was embedded in our life. We no longer wake up to see the person’s face beside us in the morning. We can no longer call the person to chat for a few moments in a busy day. Anniversaries take on a new, potent significance. And you may never again visit the places you shared together.
But with a breakup, the suffering can be magnified in a particular way, because you know the other person is still out there somewhere. In turn, we can be drawn to dwell on how our lost love is living without us.
How does social media make it difficult for people to move forward after a break up?
Even, when a relationship ends, whether it’s a distant friendship or an intimate partnership, the digital footprint remains. Our feeds become a representation of the person we lost. And yet, in reality, we’re seeing only a curated glimpse of their life. From that glimpse we weave fantasies, believing that our narratives are true.
How to deal with the grieving process?
While grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life, there are ways to help cope with the pain, come to terms with your grief, and eventually, find a way to pick up the pieces and move on with your life.
• Acknowledge your pain.
• Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
• Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
• Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you.
• Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
• Recognize the difference between grief and depression.