#11 Ways to Heal Your Heart after Loss (Breakup, Divorce, Death)
Sometimes loss is overwhelming. Years may pass and it may get better, but some moments may be painful, even after a span of time has passed. How do we cope in those painful, heart piercing moments? What action can we take to move toward healing?
- Let yourself be sad. Do sadness meditation. Sometimes, you just have to cry it out. Dwell on the memories. Focus on the loss and go through the tissues. As Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, there is a time to weep.
- Look for the lesson. Sometimes, we become more capable of enduring loss if we can pull a lesson out of it. Sometimes, loss is devastating and senseless and there may be no apparent reason or lesson—as in the death of a loved one in a freak accident. While there may be no way we can understand why the tragedy had to happen, we can think about what we learned from that person, what was great about them, and honor their memory by making an effort to be an illustration of that lesson.
- Help, serve, connect, and reach out. When we are hurting, our natural tendency may be to crawl into bed and hide. Doing the opposite of that will help us move forward. Is there a friend or family member that we can serve or help in some way? Volunteering is also a great way to connect with others and make a genuine difference in the lives of others.
- Get a dog or a cat. I am a little bit more in favor of the dog idea. If you get a puppy, you will need to take it to puppy kindergarten or training class. One of my most memorable outings with my mom when she was recovering from chemotherapy was going to the first puppy training class. We laughed nonstop the full hour. If you get an older dog, you will need to take it for walks and on trips to the dog park—this gives you the combined benefits of bonding with your dog, getting exercise, and connecting with other animal lovers.
- Let music be your healer. Music is a mood changer. Sometimes, listening to the songs that make you think about the loss may help you cherish your memories. Sometimes, you may want to completely avoid those songs, and listen to happy, upbeat music. Make yourself a happy music playlist. I have a few songs that always perk me up when I hear them: Dar Williams (or The Kinks) “Brighter Days,” Sheryl Crowe, “The Light in Your Eyes,” among others.
- Get a massage. Massage is definitely healing and boosts your immune system while lowering stress levels. It also has the emotional benefit of touch, and may help you be present in your body, and be in the moment with your feelings. In a quiet massage room, with soothing music and a good therapist, healing may happening inside and out.
- Pray and ask for help. Give your burdens to a higher power. You might find it helpful to write out your prayer in your journal. Pour out your heart and your feelings.
- Spend time in nature. Being close to nature relieves stress and increases our sense of well-being. Do you have a garden or a special “green space” that you could visit? Could you set a chair outside and listen to the birds and feel the breeze? A walk in nature or a bike ride are good options, as is visiting a body of water like lake or creek. Sometimes, just walking around in nature and taking pictures of the beauty I find, can be a kind of meditation that takes me out of myself, and renews my perspective.
- Do something future focused. Get a goal. Make plans with a friend. Buy tickets to see a show or hear a band our musician or comedian you like. Plan a day trip or a weekend getaway. You need to have something to look forward to.
- Focus on gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. Write thank you notes. My mom is always looking for people she can thank. It’s not just about writing the tertiary thank you for a birthday gift. Who are the people in your life that have made a difference? Could you write one of them a thank you letter? Has someone done something kind for you today? Maybe put your thanks in writing for them.
- Lose yourself in a novel or movie. This option will give you an emotional/mental vacation from what you are coping with. Take a two hour trip into movie at your local theatre or get lost in a thick novel.
*** A note. These methods are about getting you functioning when your heart is breaking. They help pass the time, and help you heal bit by bit. There is no magic pill or pathway to “faster” healing. Even so, you might find some of these methods helps you step outside the loss for a period of time.