Loss of a loved one must be defined. Death or the end of a relationship through divorce or breakup?
Death of a Loved One. This is finality. Accepting the fact that you will not see you’re loved again can be daunting. You will grieve the loss. Here some things you can expect.
You will feel sad, angry, and cry. You will long for your loved one. You will think of them almost constantly at first. Weeks or months later, you may come across something that will remind you of them, or that you associate with them, and find yourself breaking down all over again, after you thought you had recovered a bit.
You may experience the presence of the departed. It would not be unusual to see a glimpse of them, smell their characteristic scent, hear their voice, or even experience their touch. Don’t be alarmed if this happens. It is expected. There are several explanations for this. Psychology will describe these events as the result of desperate yearning for your loved one. Many cultures will say you are seeing them as they depart from this world to the next. You will also very likely dream about them every night. These dreams can be heartbreaking. The bottom line is that you have experienced a major loss, and it will take time for you to adjust. The depth of your love for the departed will be inversely proportionate to your suffering.
If you are having difficulty functioning due to your grief, or your grief persists for an extended period of time, as you define that, it is time to see a professional. There are psychotherapists who specialize in grief and loss issues, who are experienced at helping people, integrate the experience and continue with life.
A Divorce or Breakup
This is also going to hurt. There will be similar dynamics if a relationship ends from a breakup or divorce. A breakup can be very painful, even if you are the one who initiated it. A painful fact of life is that the degree of attachment we feel for someone else is not always reciprocated. You will miss them. You may dream about them every night, for a long time. You may wonder who they are with; if they have found someone to replace you, and this can hurt even more. You may have difficulty functioning at your normal level. If you have vacation time, this could be the time to take it. You may not function as well as usual or be as productive at work. You do not need the complication of disciplinary action or dismissal from your job at this point. Again, if you are having difficulty functioning due to the grief of a breakup, it is time to seek professional assistance.
Some possibilities after breaking up:
- Rekindling: You may have trouble letting go, and negotiate with your ex, or abandon all pride and beg them to take you back. Many couple break up and get back together again. Some couples go on and off in such a manner for years. This is unhealthy. Make a decision about what you want to do with the relationship and stick with it.
- Rebound: Should you run into the arms of someone else quickly? You may be better off spending some time alone. Rebound relationships seem to end quickly- you can end up using someone as a source of comfort, to soothe your hurt.
What if you have children with your ex? This will mean a clean break from your ex will probably not be feasible, or desirable. You will be linked to your ex for possibly a long time. Custody and visitation arrangements can turn ugly, with parents using the children being used to gain spiteful vengeance on each other. This is easy to say, but work to put your children first. Don’t disrespect each other in front of them, and keep them out of your conflicts.
Commentary by Dr. Carlo Carandang:
Losing your loved one is a major stressor that can develop into a mental disorder such as depression or anxiety, if the loss is not handled adequately. If you are having fantasies of joining your deceased loved one, or if you are contemplating suicide, then it is important to seek immediate psychiatric treatment.