Whether it’s a permanent breakup, or a temporary departure such as a soldier being deployed, it’s never easy when someone you love leaves you. You feel alone, lost, heartbroken, and maybe even confused. You wish things were different, and you might even want to spend all your time looking back over your time together to find things that you could have changed to try to change this moment. None of this is going to do you any good, though. Instead, try keeping the following in mind to help you cope when your loved one leaves you.
You can’t change the situation
You can’t change what’s happened. Regardless of the reasons for your loved one leaving, what’s done is done. While acceptance may be a tall order at this point, do not wallow in feelings of grief, sorrow, and sadness. You’ll feel them, of course, but encouraging them will only serve to make you feel worse, not better.
Instead, realize that the situation is out of your control, and focus on letting it go.
Share your feelings
Wallowing is bad, but bottling up your feelings and trying to ignore them isn’t going to help you, either. Find safe spaces in which to share your feelings: conversation with your best friend, a good cry with your mother, or a support group for military spouses or people who’ve just gone through a breakup. This allows you to get your feelings out, which is sometimes enough to make the feelings bearable.
Stay, or get, busy
Whatever the reason your loved one left, chances are there’s now a lot of free time that you used to spend with them. Instead of using that newly free time to think about them, miss them, or cry about them, use it to your advantage. Find new hobbies, explore new places, or pick up activities that you haven’t done in a while. Fill that time with fun and interesting activities so that you don’t have time to think about what you’ve lost.
By doing so, not only do you distract yourself from heartbreak, but you also open yourself up to new people. New friendships that are kindled from your new interests can help to fill the void you might be feeling at the moment.
Whether you decide to volunteer at a soup kitchen or merely offer your own experiences at a support group, helping others is a great way to cope with your own loss. It reminds you that you are not the only person suffering, and that some may be suffering in far worse ways than you are. This can help put your feelings into perspective, and remind you that the pain won’t last forever.
Learn something from it
Take the opportunity to look at the whole situation and learn something from it. Whether it’s learning what you did that led to the end of a relationship, or learning how to make a home repair while your spouse is overseas, finding something to learn in the midst of this pain will make it feel worthwhile.
Be thoughtful in your actions
It’s tempting, in the midst of anger, pain, and misery, to lash out. You might be tempted to call your ex and tell them all the things you hated about them, or to tell your spouse how awful things are for you at home with the kids while they’re deployed, but this won’t make matters better.
Give yourself time and space. Take time to breathe, and start the healing process. When emotions are no longer running as high, if you still feel the need to express yourself, then you can think about doing so.
Above all else, be patient with yourself. What you’re feeling is natural, and it will pass. It takes time, and nothing you can do will speed that up. Be patient with yourself as you heal, and be patient with yourself if you do something you later regret, like lashing out at your loved one.
It’s not easy dealing with loss. The important thing is to acknowledge it’s happened and look forward, instead of backward.