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When a Significant Relationship Ends

Relationships are a key aspect of our lives as human beings and can bring us love, joy, and security. But what happens when a significant relationship ends? The healing process after a break-up can be long and strenuous, and can present differently to different people. When a relationship ends, there is often someone who initiated the break up, “the leaver,” and someone on the receiving end of the break up, “the left.” The break-up can be very painful for both of these parties. For the “leaver,” it may be the case that the relationship was over long before you left, and that grieving has already taken place. People often stay in relationships for various reasons including children, events, finances, etc. When it comes time to physically leave the relationship, the “leaver” has typically already emotionally separated from the relationship, but that does not mean that they are free of complicated emotions, including guilt. For the “left,” the break-up may have come as a surprise to you. Maybe your partner had seemed fine in the time leading up to the break-up, or they had previously threatened to leave, but never did. The grieving process for the “left” can be prolonged, as they may hold on to the hope that they will eventually reconnect with their former partner.

If you loved your partner, the ending of the relationship can be extremely painful. Hurt, anger, betrayal, sadness, and confusion may be some of the feelings that you experience as you go through the process of healing. Grief is a normal reaction to a relationship ending, as this can be considered a major loss in someone’s life. There is no way around the grief, rather people must go through it and experience the feelings associated with grief. When people try and avoid the grieving process and the pain, it can lead to things like using drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, or jumping into a new relationship to distract us from the end of our previous relationship. All of these coping behaviours only add to the issue by creating new layers of problems, and will delay the grieving process.

Anticipate that the first year alone will be difficult. There will be milestones and holidays that will remind you of your former partner, and these firsts can be especially painful: birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, and other cultural holidays.

When you take the time to grieve the end of a relationship and to fully develop a new and healthy identity as a single, independent and self-sufficient person; the future is full of new adventures and possibilities. You will – not just survive – but thrive.

For more information about the end of relationships, along with things to do in the first year after, as well as easing the transition for your kids, attend Carizon’s Relationship Changes workshop on Tuesday, October 24th from 7-9pm.