The End of a Relationship
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
29th January, 2013
When a relationship comes to an end it can be difficult to deal with the maelstrom of feelings that overtake you. Perhaps the person has known the end is coming for a time, with issues and situations building up over a period of time; yet, when the reality hits it can take the wind from the sails. In this article we are predominately going to be look at the break of a romantic relationship, yet the content will have relevance in the case of:
- Redundancy and job loss
- Breakdown or breakup of a friendship
- Death of a friend or family member
- The loss of any significant thing or person in your life.
It is important to realise that it does not matter who or how the relationship broke down; you will still go through a process about loss. It is not simply the person that suffers the loss. Many people who have brought their relationships to an end have subsequently felt ambiguous about what has happened, should they turn the clock back. The emotional pressure on those involved is huge.
Of course the loss is not limited to your own feelings; other things can amplify the sense of loss. Friends who saw you as a couple may stop calling or inviting you round; people (in-laws for example) may no longer talk to you, or at very least it may change the nature of your relationship; you may see less or nothing of your children. All of these are very powerful examples of how one loss can lead to others.
Family and friends can help and be supportive, but often we feel that they will have they have their own judgements and that they might be negative; perhaps you might worry that they are just humouring you or that you are putting a burden on them. You may feel that it is helpful to have someone outside of the situation with whom you can be honest about how you are feeling and what you would like to do.
One of the key things that a counsellor will help you do is to understand that it is perfectly normal to have all of these feelings and to help you accept both them and your own doubts. They can help you to look at each problem and work on both your reaction to it and how you want to move forward. Part of this will be about the space to make the decisions that work for you now and will help you in the future. Just the process of sharing the problems and feelings that you face makes a significant difference to most people facing the problem.
There will of course be changes, adjusting to life on your own rather than as a couple. This can be frightening at first perhaps it is many years since you have looked after the finances or have lived on your own, each of these has it’s very practical challenges. Yet often the more difficult part is the lack of emotional company, someone to share your day with, discuss a TV program and so forth. Try to remember that you will find ways to cope with these things; you are doing the best that you can that is all anyone can ask of you.
As you allow yourself to grieve, and let the tears flow, you will slowly move forward. The old adage of time heals is perhaps not literally correct, but perhaps the sentiment is there that as you move forward in time you adjust, it is not that you forget, but rather that you beginning to feel differently and incorporate the experiences and feelings into a new life.
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