Believe it or not, grieving gracefully is possible.
(Check out this guest post from my dear friend, Laura Mena, about how to grieve a break up the right way. You can find her Instagram here).
In response to my biggest heartbreak to date, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the “right” way to grieve a lost relationship. I feel like I’ve been absorbing every Morgan Harper Nichols quote in existence and working to be as self-reflective as possible. As a result, I keep focusing on this idea of grieving gracefully (And I know you’re thinking, is that even possible?)
Immediately after my breakup, I was confident I didn’t need to grieve, let alone grieve gracefully.
With my Brene Brown book in one hand and a laundry list of church sermons in the other, I was confident I would be fine. I knew there were bigger mountains than this one and as someone who prides herself on being highly introspective, this was no biggie.
But the most significant lesson I’ve learned to date is this: no one is above the grieving process. You can be the smartest, most emotionally intelligent woman in the world (and I’m sure you are) but you will still have to feel every human emotion that comes as a byproduct of loss.
No one is above the grieving process.
Maybe your mom is telling you to just get over it or a friend says he really wasn’t all that so you shouldn’t be upset. You can even believe those things too, but it isn’t going to stop you from the extremely normal emotions of grief. And girl, that is okay. You can be self-reflective and smart and still experience shock, anger, sadness, and denial.
Since I know how hard it can be, I’m going to let you in on a few tricks that helped me grieve gracefully despite feeling every single one of those heart-wrenching emotions.
not use social media to share your vulnerabilities.
I know you hate him right now, and I know he broke your heart, and that totally sucks. But posting thank u, next in an Instagram caption or uploading that perfect breakup song to your story will not make you feel better in the long-term – and it won’t hurt him as much as you want it to. So, avoid the temptation. You are bigger than trying to inflict pain onto someone else and you are sure as hell better than letting all of your followers know that you’re hurting.
2. Do not try and stunt by him and his friends at the bar.
You’re probably thinking: this is not a big deal, I want him to see how well I’m doing! But let me tell you, it is more obvious to him than you think when you’re trying to get his attention. Buy that cute new outfit (I definitely did) and go hit the town with your best girlfriends. But do it because YOU want to and not to spur a reaction from someone who chose to walk out of your life. It will only show him that you’re spiteful and it won’t make you feel any better the next morning.
3. Do not try and hook up with someone when your heart is delicate.
Now, this is one I have first-hand experience
1. Write down all of your feelings: the good, the bad and the ugly.
A close friend of mine who had experienced a rough break up gave me the wise advice to write down my feelings every single day. She said she was able to use her journal as a memento of her journey. Months later she flipped through the pages and realized how much she had actually healed since the start of her singleness. Putting pen to paper, while annoying at times, is so therapeutic. Especially when you feel like you’ve reached the point of talking about your ex all the time to your friends. Your journal is there to listen and won’t get annoyed with the redundant feelings you pour into it.
2. Pour your love into new outlets.
I’m the kind of girl who has had a boyfriend consistently since about the 6th grade. I am a serial girlfriend and I love the idea of being in love. So much so that sometimes I accept the love I definitely don’t deserve. However, in the midst of this new season, I’ve found myself with all this emotion I still desperately need to share.
So in times like this, I pour my love into new areas of my life. Primarily, building stronger relationships with my family and friends. When my roommate comes knocking at my door when I’m trying to sleep, I get up and talk with her. When someone needs a ride to class or to talk through a situation, I step up and prioritize their needs. And you know what? It feels great. Sure it’s a different type of love but it feels just as good to pour into people that you care about, even if it’s not romantic.
3. Kill old habits and build new ones.
One of the many post-breakup blog posts I read listed the importance of breaking habits that were built during your past relationship. In this new phase of your life, you need to trash habits you created while in a toxic space.
I did everything from changing my phone passcode to establishing a new morning routine. And to my surprise, it made me feel a lot better. I have started to build a life for me without the constraints of anybody else. I feel more productive, put together and refreshed. And at the end of the day, you can’t heal in the environment that bruised your soul. So hike up those bootstraps and build the life you deserve.
4. Purge your closet and all the broken memories it holds.
I have probably spent more time than I should have
While it sounds silly, it’s a genuine and fairly simple way to determine what you should keep and what can be put in the giveaway pile. For me, this strategy helped me purge the physical presence of my ex. Any outfit that brought up memories of him was sent to Goodwill (first date sweaters, that dress I wore when meeting his parents). I even used this as an opportunity to round up his clothes and pass them off to someone to give to him. If a physical item is going to cause you to walk down memory lane, pitch it. Odds are it’s not worth hurting your pretty heart.
Every single one of these tips helped me heal in a beautiful and graceful way. And while you can’t escape the natural feelings that come with a breakup, you can manage them like the boss girl you are.
A quote that I love by Ijeoma Umebinyuo says “You must allow the pain to visit. You must allow it to teach you. You must not allow it to overstay”. Embrace your broken parts, but learn from them – they can be used as fuel to move on and create a life you love.