I started to feel a sickness in my stomach. My eyes welled without warning. In mere seconds I felt myself feeling sluggish and exhausted. Sadness was sinking in. I wanted to stop time – change it even. I felt desperate in my disbelief. I was watching the election results unfold. For me, my candidate was losing and lost. I was now facing yet another of my life’s heartbreaks.
This post is not political. This post is about heartbreak. It happens to each of us. In many forms and in many ways over our lifetimes we will experience a hope lost, a dream dashed, and a wish washed away. The inevitable crush of disappointment will fall upon each of our shoulders in varying weights.
On election day, while I mourned the loss of a dream I had been holding onto for a mere18 months, a friend of mine lost her 37 year old little sister to brain cancer. Her heartbreak huge, mine minor – but in ways we have the same path to travel. Her path will be long, mine short. Hers may never heal and mine surely will – but we both have to heal from our heartbreak.
My deepest heartbreak to date was my divorce. Like much heartache, nothing could have possibly prepared me for the grief and depression I would sink into. Like many, I learned that grief is not a straight line. The only predictability about grief’s timeline is its unpredictability. I learned that while there may be stages to grief, on any given the day you may find yourself falling forward or backward in an instant.
For most, initially, heartbreak rapidly unfolds into hopelessness. The initial shock from the realization that there is finality to a relationship or a dream is daunting. Depression dictates the early days of heartbreak. There is little to cure or quicken the onset of heartbreak. However, in the days – weeks – months – that follow, it is in this time that I learned some tools for coping and recovery.
None of these suggestions will be new, yet I need reminders along the way – particularly when depression sinks my energy and mood. I find it useful to have a small, manageable list of reminders to serve as depression detours.
Focus on gratitude. If only for one day, write down three things that you are grateful for that day. Make it small. I am grateful for the old, white, fuzzy blanket that warms my feet. I am grateful for the sun shining through my window warming my cat lazily stretched across the floor. I am grateful for being able to focus on my gratitude.
Find joy. Not in a big way, but in the small. Take a photo each day of something that makes you happy. Snap a picture of a flower still managing its beautiful bloom on November 10th. Capture a picture of that favorite pair of jeans draped over the back of the bedroom chair waiting for the work day to be done. Take a picture of your child’s, your best friend’s, your parent’s hand in yours providing comfort during these days.
Feel without fear. Know that this sorrow will pass. Have a long talk with a confidante, seek out a counselor, journal as many pages as necessary. Process through your feelings and in the process you will start to let your feelings release.
There is no magic way to heal from heartbreak. But these tools may help you find focus and take control of what seems so uncontrollable. Heartbreak is inevitable, and so to is the healing.