"I can't live without him." "I need her back." "He was my everything." "She was my life." When we love so deeply and we lose that love, the hurt is so profound it feels like an empty whole in our soul. The words "my heart is broken" could not feel more true. How do I help? How do I show a client who is in the darkest hours that this too shall pass? The truth is, the pain they are in is a testimony to the depth of love that they had for their lost one. My job now, hard as it is, is to get them to find a way to accept this. To honor the past and let it go.
There is no denying that we yearn for a life to share with another. We are humans who do feel complete when in the arms of a soulmate. Note, I say, "feel complete." The truth is we are complete with or without a partner in our life. Now, how do I get my heartbroken client to see this, feel this and live this. Heartbreak is a journey that takes you through all the five Stages of Grief. You remember them, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. But unlike the death of a loved one, when a partner purposely leaves you, that person becomes an integral part of the grief process and all the stages to healing. Why? Because they are still in your life. Most of the time, they are in a physical proximity to you. They live near you. They shop at the same favorite stores. They dine at your favorite restaurant. Which is totally wrong because it was yours before you shared it with them. Not to mention the slew of mutual friends you have. Friends that somehow nourish your obsession by filling you in on every detail of the ex's life.
So you start the bargaining again. "If you come back I promise I will change!". But now the bargaining is cycling with anger. You see them on Instagram or Facebook moving on without you. One too many glasses of wine causes you to pick up that phone and drunk dial them. Ouch. Did you really do that? Now you're angry at them and at yourself. And still, they don't come back. Eventually, the depression hits.
The depression is the darkest part of this journey. But, hallelujah! It is also the biggest step to acceptance. The bargaining has stopped. The anger is no longer covering the ache in your heart. You see the truth, that this relationship is really over. Now the healing can begin. Its time to turn the depression into mourning.
Let me explain. Depression takes you down into a black hole. Mourning is sadness. Sadness is what I need my clients to find. "I am so sad over what is no more. I am so sad that I lost my friend. I am so sad that the dreams I had for our future are over." It hurts like hell. But once I see my client truly mourning I know that there is light at the end of their deep dark grief tunnel. For after mourning comes acceptance.
This mourning stage can take a long time for some and for others it is a jumpstart to freedom. When you are in mourning you are no longer holding the relationship hope angel in your heart. You are no longer hoping for what was. THIS is when I can get my clients to look to the future. Forward focus, forward focus, and just look up! You are now on, what I like to call, the ladder to healing. On a good day we can pull it together and focus on the future and we fly up the ladder three steps. Then other days something hits us and we stumble back down a step. Hopefully, just hopefully, it was three steps up and only one step down. Then the next time it's four steps up and one step down. All of a sudden, miracle of miracles, praise the healing Gods, you realize that you are almost to the top. On each step higher the days get brighter as your heart gets lighter. Then one day there it is. There are no more steps to take. You are standing there all by yourself! Ain't the view pretty up there! You are healed.