A broken heart can be incredibly painful. You may find yourself feeling sad, angry, or lonely. You may experience insomia or even show signs of anxiety, sometimes for months. Grieving takes time. People grieve loss at their own pace. But like any process, the grief process is meant to come to an end. It's not supposed to last forever. Don't let grief over a really deep loss result in permanent pain and bitterness.
The well-known author Elizabeth-Kubler Ross, MD, has identified five classic stages of the grieving process. Whether we are grieving the death of a loved one, or the end of a significant relationship, we tend to go through these five stages of grief. These stages rarely come in order, and often people go back and forth between stages until they reach stage five. The key is to not get stuck somewhere along the way.
When a relationship ends that you care deeply about, if you're not the one who ended it, the first and most basic response is denial. It must not be true. You don't believe it. Maybe it's just temporary. You'll get back together. Sometimes no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary, you just can't believe that it's finally over.
The next stage in the loss process is anger. Anger at the person who left you; anger at being abandoned; anger at being alone. Sometimes this anger gets misplaced, and you end up angry at the whole world, thinking, "Why don't things ever go my way?"
This is the stage where you negotiate, or bargain with the person who has hurt you. You try to resurrect a relationship that is already dead. You may threaten him, or promise to change or even ask his friends to try and make him see what a mistake he's making.
Some days just getting out of bed and climbing into the shower proves to be an effort. You may feel distracted and irritable. This is normal, unless it persists for months and months and prevents you from functioning normally. If that happens, seek professional help.
The last stage of grief is acceptance of the loss of the relationship. This is the place you want to reach eventually. This is the place where you finally let go of the relationship you've lost and move on.
Throughout these stages and beyond, genuinely taking these positive steps to help regain happiness will aid in healing your broken heart.
Set aside time to grieve
Take the time you need to heal your heart. Journaling may help you get through the process.
Find ways to make yourself happy
Remember to do the little things you enjoy doing. Treat yourself to something special.
Reach out to supportive family and friends
Talk with people who care about how you feel — people who will be there for you to listen while you talk.
Learn from the mistakes you made
It takes two to make or break a relationship. No one is always right, and no one is always wrong. What new behavior can you take into your next relationship that will make this one better than the last?
Allow yourself to move on and eventually love again
When you refuse to ever love again, you end up allowing yourself to be wounded twice. While it's important not to ignore your pain, eventually you have to move past it. Moving on is possible, and is a good thing, though at times it may not feel like it.
The author Henri Nouwen writes, "When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your [next] love ever more fruitful."