Moving On: How to Properly Grieve and Heal After a Breakup

The end of a relationship can feel devastating. It can be hard to sleep, eat, or concentrate. The things you once thought were fun don’t appeal anymore. Depending on how long you were together, or how intense the emotional attachment was, it may even feel like you don’t know what direction your life will take now.

But don’t give up faith, and don’t lose hope.

As with other types of grief, grieving after a breakup can be done in a healthy way that points you toward healing without spiraling into bitterness, shame, or self-loathing.

Things Will Get Better

Acknowledging the end of a relationship is tough, but there are other things to learn and know after a breakup that are more empowering. One study by the Journal of Positive Psychology found that most participants saw progress in their healing, recovery, and growth after only a few months (around 11 weeks).

Just as knowing that you’re not alone in your feelings can help you when things are at their worst, knowing that you can and will heal from a breakup can help you move forward. There are plenty of practical ways to start on a path to wholeness.

Use Your Time Wisely

Since you’re not spending time with your significant other anymore, it can be tempting to fill that time by wallowing in negative emotions like self-pity, rage, and bitterness.

It may feel good to get those feelings out of your system, but they can do damage if not balanced by other emotions or experiences. If you have a history of struggles with harmful behaviors, addiction, or mental illness, the days after breaking up are a critical time to reach out for help and support.

There are lots of productive ways to use your time after a breakup. Here are a few of the most effective:

Travel: Going somewhere new can be a healthy distraction from the places and routines that remind you of your boyfriend or girlfriend. Take a road trip with some friends, visit family, or visit a hometown landmark you’ve never seen before. Planning and enjoying a trip helps you feel more independent, and may broaden your horizons along the way.

Learning: Learning something new is always fun and energizing. The sense of accomplishment it provides can boost your confidence and help you counter the negative emotions that come along with a breakup, You can try:

  • Taking a cooking class
  • Finding a new hobby
  • Exploring the outdoors
  • Sports, games, or exercise
  • Learning a new language

Helping Others: Whether it’s volunteering for a cause you believe in, giving time to a ministry at your church, tutoring at your local community center, or being there for a friend who’s going through a rough time, helping others is one of the most therapeutic things you can do after a breakup. It will help you feel better and it may provide you with some much-needed perspective.

Know Your Value

One of the most important things to remember when dealing with a breakup is that your partner’s negative words and feelings about you do not define your true worth. You had worth before and during the relationship. Your value cannot be damaged or diminished by a breakup, no matter how painful the end of the relationship feels.

Believing this can be even more of a struggle if your romantic relationship (or other close relationships that would otherwise be a part of your support system) included a history of abuse, mistreatment, or abandonment.

“He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. . . Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”— Isaiah 40: 29, 31 (NIV)

But going through a breakup does not make you broken. You were created for good, and there is abundant grace and mercy to strengthen you and help you move forward. TheHopeLine is here for you during your breakup. Talk to us, reach out to a mentor, or request prayer whenever you need it. We can help you work toward healing a broken heart and make sure you reconnect with healthy relationships.

You fell in love and got hurt now what do you do? Find out how to heal, cope and love again:

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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13 comments on “Moving On: How to Properly Grieve and Heal After a Breakup”

  1. My husband has filed for divorce after 19 years of marriage. I want to try anything to reconcile but he doesn't. We both know God's word about covenant marriage so I have a hard time accepting that this is ok with God. I want to surrender and fight for my marriage at the same time. I want to believe God still has a purpose for me when I believe so deeply that part of my purpose was to be his wife. I was not always a good wife but I was never unfaithful. I want to have hope that God can fix anything. His word is full of situations where He did the impossible. I feel "letting go" is giving up. How do we stand in faith and also let go and let God?

    1. My husband also decided to leave the house after 17 years and four children I know at times I wasn't the perfect wife or the perfect mother but I try my best I'm praying that God bring my husband home and changes heart but I'm not sure if God is protecting me so right now I'm in a place of being lost and confused and scared and hurt mad upset I feel so bad right now I just need God to give me strength to move forward and be the mother I need to be for my children

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