Healing a broken heart, Part I – Healthy Grieving

When my heart was broken by a failed romance I had the advantages of  49 years of life experience and training as a psychotherapist.  I knew something about how emotions work, had survived difficult times before and knew I would live.

Still, I was devastated. Feelings are feelings and I was in pain. By using my resources and searching for new ones, I did survive.  Here is what helped me recover more quickly:

1. CRY and don’t ANALYZE
Crying literally causes a chemical change that gives you relief. Crying rids your body of stress hormones that keep you sad. Let yourself cry and get these chemicals back in balance. This is usually not the time to figure out what went wrong. There is a good reason to wait before you analyze. Because of the way the brain works, when you are feeling sad you tend to think negative thoughts.  Often trying to figure out what went wrong when you are sad, you end up with finding lots of negatives that make you feel worse. Just cry and in about 10 to 20 minutes your mood will improve.

The same pain pathways that create physical pain also are involved in emotional pain, so it actually helps emotional pain to take painkillers. A study done at Ohio State University suggests that acetaminophen-containing drugs like Tylenol may reduce the intensity of emotions. It may blunt positive emotions as well, so use with care.


Research shows that touch releases positive neurochemistry. Get and give all the hugs you can. Hug your friends, your cat, your stuffed animals, yourself. People need tactile stimulation.

Exercise may be the last thing you want to do. You may not feel like moving at all. In long-term relationships, just being around your partner stimulates your body to make endorphins, one of the bodies “feel good” chemicals. When your loved one isn’t there anymore, you don’t create as many.  It is one reason you feel so lousy when a relationship ends. Exercise is a good way to generate endorphins and replenish the neurochemicals you’ve lost.

Chocolate contains neurochemicals that our bodies create when we fall in love!  Consider chocolate to be  “replacement therapy”.

There is strong temptation is to tell yourself you are unloveable and something is wrong with you. The truth is that you were lovable enough to get the love in the first place. You didn’t intentionally lose it. Focus on your lovable qualities and attributes. Write them down. Make a running list. Also make a list of positive things you still have in your life:  health, family, friends, pets, skills, favorite activities, even TV shows, music or books.

Lastly, I reminded myself that when my children hurt  I gave them comfort, sympathy, and a chance to tell me what happened.  As an adult, we often blame ourselves thinking we should know better and end up feeling worse.

I came to believe strongly that the pain of my broken heart was enough punishment for any wrong choice or mistake made!




Part III, Putting the Loss Behind You





6 comments on “Healing a broken heart, Part I – Healthy Grieving

  1. The more you love, the more it will hurt. Besides eating chocolate, how about eating comfort food. It’s okay to indulge. If you like ice cream, French fries, pizza, go for it. 🍗🍟 🍕 🍔🍰 🍦 🍰


  2. Great insight and advice. Exercise works the best for me. I ride my rear off and find I feel good for a few hours then the pain returns and I’m back on the bike or in a stream fly fishing. Some one’s comments said the more you loved the more it hurts and that is 100% correct. We all love and some suffer for it. In the end and with time things get put in perspective and hopefully we all learn from loss and move forward better prepared to love again.


    • Steve,
      Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful comment. I do agree with everything you’ve said. Life, essentially, is about loss and learning and growing. There can be no regrets, I believe, if we learn from our experiences. Love really can’t be destroyed it can change but it can’t be destroyed.

      Exercise is the number ONE way to release those feel good endorphins and being in nature is what heals our brains and our souls. You are fortunate to have found both. Thank you for the reminders.


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