Skip to content

Thriving After Relationship Loss: A Guide to Healing


Broken hearts. None of us are exempt from experiencing relationship loss due to death or otherwise. It is not usually acknowledged, but non-death losses can be just as painful or as equally destructive as death losses, and it’s unlikely that we are brought flowers or baked goods in the midst of a breakup or other types of emotional detachments. Logically, we know that we are not alone in suffering the departure of an intimate partner, family member, or friend, coping with the relationship trauma is an event that often leaves us feeling completely isolated.

How does a relationship loss impact your mental & physical health?

Relational bonds with others create a strong sense of security which can positively increase our health and wellness, but when those bonds are broken, our understanding and expectations about our connection with the world and those we love become shattered. Whether we have the chance to prepare for a loss or not, there is usually a mental, emotional, and physical toll that is taken on our bodies. Resulting emotions can include shock, confusion, feelings of abandonment, despair, anger, guilt, shame, weariness, hopelessness and can lead to concerns about our own self-worth. Physical reactions might manifest as chest pain, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, stomach cramps, headaches, fatigue, muscle soreness, numbness, brain fog, disturbed sleeping and eating patterns, and a weakened immune response.

Overcome Relationship Loss Sillon Wellness San Antonio

Existentially, we wonder about the overall meaning and purpose of relationships, and life in general, and can fear how we will find our motivation to move forward. We are confronted with difficult questions in the face of loss. Why did this happen? What did I do wrong? Why was I not good enough for this relationship to be a successful one? Which parts of the relationship were real? How do I pretend like everything is fine? Should I be truthful or lie? How do I get out of bed and put on a brave face for work or at the grocery store? What if I start crying in public? Why is everyone else continuing to live their lives like everything is fine? Why are early mornings and late nights so difficult? How will I listen to songs, watch movies or keep the interests that we’d previously shared? How do I deal with old memories and associations? What do I do with the remaining love that I hold or the positive feelings that I have for this person? If you are struggling to cope with the loss of a relationship, consider online counseling therapy.

5 Stages in Relationship Loss

These are completely normal reactions to have when suffering through a relationship loss. You may be aware that there are 5-stages of grief and loss, as outlined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. These stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Initially we find ourselves in a state of not believing that our current reality is actually happening. We then encounter the other stages in a non-linear fashion, which means that we can oscillate between each of the stages of grief without any rhyme or reason. We would like to believe that after a loss we can move through these stages in a quick, pre-aligned way that avoids us having to feel as much hurt as humanly possible. Rather, we are put out to sea in a storm with unpredictable, rolling waves of despair mixed in with lighter moments of distraction, and sometimes even joy. For a good deal of time it may feel like we are drowning, until a bit of time passes, our strength returns and we are able to find our footing once again.

How to overcome relationship loss in a healthy way:

One of the biggest questions that we yearn to have answered in the face of loss is, “When will this pain go away?” Unfortunately, there is no real answer to this question, as in truth there may be a certain amount of pain that never ceases to exist. What we do know, is that there are efforts we can put towards “lessening the blow.” While some of these suggestions seem obvious, they aren’t always easy to engage in:

  1. Keep in contact with your support network – Staying connected with those we care about can help to remind us of our own worth. Joining a support group will help normalize that these experiences are universal. Isolate only when you need to re-charge your social and emotional batteries.
  2. Feel and express your emotions – Don’t try to avoid the “bad” emotions associated with loss. Avoidance is only temporary and may actually make those feelings and your subsequent response worse. Be angry when you are and cry when you need to. Write down your emotional experience to help document your progress.
  3. Maintain a schedule – Keeping up our routine can be difficult, but it allows us to avoid idle time where we might fall into ruminating or engaging in self-defeating behaviors. Though it may not be possible right away, slowly make your way back to a healthy pattern of sleeping, eating, exercising and completing other activities of daily living. Small accomplishments bring us confidence!
  4. Engage in self-care and creative hobbies – Write, meditate, walk in nature, listen to music, read, treat yourself to your favorite food or a new item. These activities help you to redirect love back to your own self.
  5. Use positive self-talk – Identify what you love about YOU and remind yourself of those things every day! Practice gratitude to help you stay focused on small gifts and silver linings.
  6. Initiate a physical connection with yourself – Smile often, hug yourself or place your warm hand on your chest over heart. These activities can mimic physical contact that often comes from another person, releasing feel good chemicals into your brain and body.
  7. Attend therapy – Working with a therapist can help you to process your experience with loss in a healthy way. You can learn deep breathing, grounding exercises, etc. to help keep symptoms of depression and anxiety at bay. Inquire about, and take psychiatric medication if you think it would be helpful. If you’re looking for relationship loss counseling or therapy in San Antonio, get in touch with Sillon Wellness.

Though it may feel like the pain that comes with relationship loss will never end, it eventually will and although we don’t return to who we were before that relationship, there will be a new us who has more insight and knowledge than ever before. Having patience for this outcome can be difficult. It is important to “meet yourself where you are,” physically, mentally and emotionally. Have compassion for yourself and your feelings. Leave the fear of judgment from the self or others behind.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”  – Washington Irving

Sillon Wellness is a counseling therapy center in San Antonio that specializes in helping people cope with the loss of a relationship. We understand that the pain of relationship loss can be devastating, and we are here to provide you with the support and guidance you need to heal. Contact Sillon Wellness or call us at 726.201.5284