There will always be a last time. The problem is that you never actually know when it will come.
When the storm clouds gather and your whole life suddenly shifts and changes all around you, and you’re consumed and haunted by the notion that the everyday things that became part of your everyday normal, were done for the last time without ever even realising it.
Everything now looks suddenly different. Unwelcoming and scary. All you want is a piece of the normal, to be comforted by it. To breathe it in and drink it down like a medicine.
The reality of starting again and learning to be you, is terrifying. Crushing.
Heartbreak feels like drowning. Like your whole world has been churned up by a tempestuous wave. But the waves keep coming, only each one is stronger and more powerful that the last.
What does heartbreak feel like? Sometimes it’s possible to pinpoint the exact moment when you just know that everything is about to change. You’re forced to open your eyes and accept the reality that a significant person or relationship, is gone.
Grief is defined as ‘keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.’ It is usually reserved to describe the process of dealing with the loss of someone who has died. But what happens when you are trying to deal with the loss of somebody who is still very much alive?
My own personal experience of grief in this instance caught me completely by surprise. I had no idea that heartbreak could be so painful, and let’s be honest, it’s really hard.
It hurts in places you never knew could hurt. It floors you, sometimes literally. You do everything you can to ‘suck it up,’ to ‘try to move on,’ because as people like to cheerfully remind you, ‘everything happens for a reason.’
But what happens if you’re not sure what the reason is? And you’re alone with only your tortured mind for company – wondering why and how this could happen. Replaying moments and conversations in your head, over and over again. You reluctantly agonise over your own despair and desperately try to claw your way out of it. All the while, everyone around you seems so blissfully happy, with their beautiful highlight reel of picture perfect relationships and dewy Instagram filters.
You begin to look at yourself differently. Analysing every flaw and suddenly it’s just easier to hide yourself away, to let the negative voices in your head win until eventually, you sink to a point so low that even the very idea of just getting out of bed in the morning seems all too much.
For such a long time I felt like I too was truly alone in feeling this way. Like my heart would always bear these battle scars and nobody else would ever be able to heal them again. I built a wall around myself. I couldn’t imagine ever laughing again. Properly laughing, the type where you feel like you can’t breathe. I was trapped in a cycle of overwhelming sadness where all I wanted was the one person who I thought would make it all go away. Of course, life carried on as normal but everything looked vaguely unfamiliar, like I was looking at it through somebody else’s glasses.
Coping with The Grief of Heartbreak
One thing that I did learn from having this experience was how interlinked the feelings of grief and heartbreak can become. I heard a quote once that says, ‘one of the hardest things that you will ever have to do is to grieve the loss of a person who is still alive.’ Of course heartbreak, grief and loss can take a variety of different forms but the fundamental sentiment is usually the same.
Sometimes when we are in the midst of something truly awful, we forget to look around and notice the little things, as it’s so easy to become overwhelmed, lonely and anxious, worrying about the future and what will happen next. The worry is that it will always be like this.
But it won’t.
Here are some things that helped me through the tough days, sometimes just knowing that you’re not alone is like a warm and gently reassuring hug.
Talk until you run out of words.
In tough times, it’s important to seek comfort in the arms of friends and loved ones, they will guide you and help you navigate your way. Let people help you through and don’t, under any circumstances worry about being a burden. If they are true friends they will understand. Take comfort in the knowledge that you would do exactly the same for them. Talk about everything. Let it all out. Cry. And then when you’re ready, laugh again.
Treat yourself as you would a best friend.
Remember to look after you. It’s so easy in times of stress or emotional turmoil to forget about the most important person. Ourselves. Be kind to yourself. Be your own best friend. You need yourself.
Stop chasing happiness.
It will come again. Learn to ride the waves, even the difficult ones. You’ve got this.
Accept and be Patient.
The Kubler – Ross model outlines the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Acceptance is, in my opinion, the hardest and most difficult stage. In the beginning, you simply can’t imagine ever reaching it. But you will. Allow yourself to experience each emotion. Don’t brush it aside, just sit there in it. Feel it. Live it and then let it go.
If the other four stages are the inhale, acceptance is the wonderfully satisfying exhale. It is the final release of the debilitating anguish of grief finally subsiding, like the clouds clearing and the refreshingly cleansing smell of the ground after a heavy rain shower.
Be patient. Your sunny day will come again and this too shall pass.
-Bloom From The Darkness
Author Bio: Sarah Kent
Sarah is an Illustrator and Art Teacher with an MA in Children’s Literature from the North East of England. She enjoys drawing, visiting old bookshops and befriending other people’s dogs.