Grieve as long as it takes
There are many times that people stay in unhealthy relationships simply for the fact that they don’t want them to end, when they end the grieving process begins! In our culture we are told we are not doing it right if we grieve. WE are told that if we grieve we are “breaking down”, being “weak”, “wearing our heart on our sleeve”, etc. And in this process of judgment and criticism, we learn to stuff away our feelings; we learn to believe something is wrong with us when we feel. In fact, nothing is wrong with us, we are human beings who are wired to feel a wide range of emotions, all of which are equally important.
There are two reasons we have tears, one is to experience life through an emotion called sadness. The other is to cleanse.
When we cry we release emotional toxins; the tears actually heal the wound, not time. So the hardest and most essential part of mending a broken heart is feeling the uncomfortable feelings.
Most people don’t do nearly enough crying. When we cut short the grieving process, we then drag the unresolved baggage into the next relationship leaving us a little more guarded, less trusting, or more cynical. So to give the new relationship a chance we must fully grieve the old.
I don’t agree that there is a formula for length of time per year for grieving; it is until you are done.
A good rule of thumb is: the longer and more intense the relationship, the longer and more intense the grieving.
When you can think about all aspects of the relationship and be emotionally neutral then you are done with the healing process. The neutrality means healed with any emotional issue you are working on; it means you are no longer carrying it around with you like a noose around the neck. If shedding the past wasn’t enough of an incentive to feel the uncomfortable feelings, grieving a broken heart fully is also how we change the patterns of whom we attract as partners. So if you find yourself attracting the same types of partners, you have unfinished grief work to do somewhere. It is never easy crying and feeling the emotion but once you do, you will soon feel the wonderful results.
Cynthia Pickett, LCSW