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How Can I Grieve After a Breakup?

Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified 

The end of a romantic relationship can be devastating due to all the losses that you are forced to experience all at once. You have lost the relationship, future plans/aspirations, financial/physical/emotional support, and perhaps, even aspects of your own identity. These losses need to be grieved so that you are able to move forward. After a breakup, you might immediately begin grieving, or it might take some time for you to do so. Sometimes, we might find ourselves stuck in grief and, thus, we find the need for methods to help progress in the grieving process. 

Try these methods if you need help in your grieving process: 

Write Letters

Write one letter or a series of letters to your ex that you will never send to them. Try writing your thoughts and feelings about them and the relationship. You can tell them what you will miss or what you won’t miss, or simply express anything that you still need to say. Write in a completely unedited and uncensored manner. Writing a letter or series of letters to your ex may help you grieve your losses. Remember that it’s important not to send these letters to your ex, as they are only a means to assist you in your grieving process. 

Utilize Social Support 

Talk to members of your support system about your breakup. It’s important to focus on people who you feel can be supportive and confidential. For example, you might not feel comfortable involving mutual friends in your grieving process. Rather, you might want to choose your own friends and family members. When talking to members of your support system, try to feel and express your emotions and allow others to support you. Keep in mind, that emotional processing is a key part of grieving. 

Process Out Loud 

Imagine that you have the chance to say everything you need to say to your ex and they have to listen and accept what you say; they cannot interrupt you or engage with you in any way. What would you say? If you’ve got things to say, try this. Talk to your ex out loud without them being present or involved. Say what you need to say and focus on feeling and expressing your emotions. You might want to do this in a private setting or with background noise. 

Establish Boundaries 

Grieving requires emotional safety and emotional/physical space. Ask yourself: are there any factors preventing me from feeling emotionally safe or from obtaining the emotional/physical space necessary to grieve? If so, you may need to consider establishing boundaries in order to establish emotional safety or emotional/physical space. Here are a few examples of such boundaries: 

  • Informing your ex that they cannot visit you, call or text you, or engage with you on social media. 
  • Not responding to communication from your ex.
  • Not checking up on your ex or their associates on social media. 
  • Asking members of your support system not to pass on messages to you from your ex.
  • Maintaining professional interactions with your ex in the workplace.  

Begin to Let Go 

In order to support your grieving process, you may need to let things go. What you decide to let go of or keep is a personal decision. You may decide to let go of physical items associated with your ex or the relationship. You may also choose to end relationships with people who are associated with your ex and who can no longer have a healthy impact on your life. Some people will block or unfollow their ex and their ex’s friends or acquaintances on social media. Consider this: is there anything that might be hindering your grieving process? If so, you might want to consider letting it go. 

Do you need help grieving a breakup? If so, talking to a counselor can help. Explore our counseling services, and reach out to Symmetry Counseling to connect with a therapist in Chicago.

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