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The other day I gave a presentation to about 20 singles over the age of 50 and, coincidentally or not, a fair number of them had lost their beloveds and were now trying to move forward and create a new chapter for themselves.
It got me to think about a large majority of my Empowered Singles community since a huge percentage have suffered a relationship loss … whether through widowhood or divorce or a breakup of a long-term “common law” relationship.
It also got me to thinking about how quickly some of these people jump back into wanting to date.
Losing a significant relationship in life is never easy, especially after you and your former partner walked side by side together for a length of time. The loss of a close relationship can feel like emotional amputation. You may feel sad and alone, as if you’re missing an important part of yourself. If you were on the receiving end of a break up, you may feel angry, rejected or betrayed.
The good news is that the sadness doesn’t last forever. However, it’s important to approach the process of “getting back out there again” in an intelligent, healthy way. As I’ve said before, those who have suffered a loss may be feeling badly about themselves or may feel afraid that they’re going to wind up alone and then rush in blindly and desperately.
When we’re in the middle of so much pain, it may be hard to get clear bearings about our experiences. In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” To learn more about this process, I encourage you to visit her foundation’s web site: HERE
For now, however, to make the process smoother, and to give yourself the best chance of being happy, here are seven tips to healing and finding happiness again:
- Let Yourself Grieve
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. It’s also a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss
When we feel pain from a loss, allowing ourselves time to grieve is one of the most important steps in the healing process. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
Find healthy outlets where you can safely express your emotions. Talk with supportive friends, write in a journal, see a counselor, or pray to your maker. Acknowledge the pain and hurt. Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Those who don’t allow themselves to grieve carry repressed pain which will inevitably affect future relationships. When you let yourself grieve, you give yourself the gift of compassion.
- Care for Yourself
It’s easy to feel sorry for oneself after a relationship loss, and in doing so neglect one’s own wellbeing. Some people self-blame, while some blame others and view themselves as the victim. There may be an urge to mope endlessly and wallow negatively. Some punish themselves consciously or unconsciously.
The more difficult the separation, the more important it is to take good care of yourself. This is the time to face your feelings and not suppress them. By acknowledging the pain, you allow yourself to resolve the pain. Unresolved grief can lead to symptoms such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and health problems. If you don’t relish the thought of wallowing, express your feelings in creative ways, such as writing in a journal.
Remember to be your own advocate. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel … and don’t tell yourself what you should be feeling either. Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
- Plan Ahead for Grief “Triggers”
Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and milestones can revive memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional blow, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or life event with other people, talk with them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on ways you can honor where you are at the moment. You may be tempted to isolate yourself at these times – if you do, make sure you’re not doing so because you’re wallowing. Which leads us to…
- Lean on Your Healthy Support Network
The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to carry. Wherever the support comes from, accept it and do not grieve alone. Connecting to others will help you heal.
Try not to think that you’re imposing on other people … and try not to feel ashamed about asking for help. No person is an island — more than likely, your loved ones would love to help yet probably aren’t sure how to. Express your needs – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
When interacting with your support system, you may be tempted to over-analyze and obsess over your loss. While processing is important and healthy, be mindful if you find yourself endlessly revisiting the past and rehashing wounds.
“Normal people have problems. The smart ones get help.”
― Daniel Amen
- Be Physical
There’s a saying that I really like: “motion dictates emotion.” How we use our body affects greatly how we feel. The easiest way to feel lousy about yourself is to keep your head down, slouching like a couch potato, and wallow in misery. Conversely, studies show that healthy and enjoyable physical activities can energize your body, lift your emotions, and enliven your spirit.
- Allow for Peaceful Alone-time
As hard as this may seem, given our supreme fear of loneliness, allow yourself time for what my teachers call serene solitude, and learn to be comfortable with your own company. Engage in enjoyable, solitary activities that let you to feel peace and strength on your own. Get to know yourself again. This is a vital step if you’re interested in forming healthy relationships in the future.
When you’re ready, reach out and help others in greater need than you. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit an elderly home, or engage in other types of meaningful work or community service. Working with others who are in greater need than you will help put life into perspective. You’ll realize how fortunate you are. Plus you’ll be contributing to the world in a meaningful way, which will boost your self-esteem.
Whatever you do, please take your time.
If you honor these seven tips, you’ll find that soon enough you’ll be in good shape physically, mentally and emotionally. You’ll be in a much better position to get out into the world as an Empowered Single, loving your life and ready to co-create an extraordinary relationship.
If you feel that you need some support to help you navigate the waters, to become successfully single and then relationship ready, please set up an appointment with me, so we can discuss how I can best support you. Email me HERE.