Letting go of someone you love is one of the hardest things we have to do in life.
Emotions of hurt, grief, and anger follow us wherever we go.
With my experience guiding others and my own major losses, I understand the importance of emotional release.
You’re searching for a way to sever emotional bonds and find peace.
Every movie, song, photograph, sweet saying, favorite food, special road trip, and the way the sun sits in the sky… all remind you of that person.
This article provides six effective approaches to help you with the process of letting go, so you can move forward with grace and resilience.
As you work hard to let go of someone you love, you might judge yourself. Especially, you’ll judge your emotions.
In The Thought Store: 8 Simple Thinking Habits for Work and Life, thinking habit #4 is about allowing and accepting your emotions.
This seemingly small act of self-love is very powerful. Because instead of diminishing your emotions you’re telling yourself: You feel BLANK and I love you anyway.
Your emotions don’t make sense. They aren’t always attractive. They make you uncomfortable, but they are part of you.
To Let Go of Someone You Love: Make a Decision
It’s a big decision and it probably took a long time to arrive at the decision to let go of someone you love or have loved.
Sometimes it’s this pendulum of being sure, then not sure, being sure, then not sure, until the pendulum arrives in the still place where you know it’s time.
You’re ready to begin the process of letting go.
1. Grief Has to Happen
To let go of someone you love, you’ll need to feel your emotions. You already knew that. But, allow me to underline the importance of feeling what is true for you each step of the way.
If you don’t have the words to express your grief over losing someone you love, it’s OK.
Feel your emotions instead. Grieve.
You may feel completely alone. You may feel angry. You may feel fed up that love has left.
All of these complex emotions are part of letting go. Old losses from a very young age may come up and unfelt feelings will demand to be felt.
As you let go of someone you love, you may feel deprived, alone, angry, and heartbroken. As you feel all of what’s true for you, while keeping your thoughts supportive and life affirming, you’ll eventually let go.
The Feelings of Loss
When a relationship ends, it may be hard for you to bear the feelings of loss.
Depending on the kind of loss, it can be traumatic. Plus, new losses kick up the dirt of old, unhealed losses.
For example, when I lost my husband, it kicked up old, unresolved feelings associated with my father and my issues with him.
I had to talk with my therapist and friends over and over to work through it.
Past romantic relationships, other relationships, and our relationships with our parents all come back to us when we’re going through the loss of love.
The Healing Process
So, when you’ve lost someone you love, your instinct might be to crawl away from the light. This is your own path, so crawl where you must.
You Have Someone You’re Meant to Be, (the new edition of The Butterfly Silhouette), is about a caterpillar who doesn’t believe she can be a butterfly and goes on a quest to find herself. In the middle of her quest, she loses a loved one and drops into a puddle.
She doesn’t believe in herself and she’s grieving.
She needs time in that quiet, safe place, away from the light, so that she can process her loss.
In the story, the puddle is a metaphor for a well of all healing, which is the place we all go to lick our wounds, feel our sadness, feel our heartache, and hopefully heal our hearts.
I love the image of water as a place for feeling and letting go. I’ve pictured it a thousand times. I see myself diving in and swimming toward the bottom into darker and darker waters. This is a special place so far beneath, there’s definitely no light.
Grief is also like pushing through solid rock… as Rilke says.
Ranier Maria Rilke’s miraculous poem, Pushing Through is the perfect salve for an aching heart.
How did he do it? How did he find the perfect words to describe exactly how I felt?
On my daily walks, I’d recite his beautiful words over and over again, hoping for peace.
Hoping to let go of my heartache. I love this line of the poem about grief…
“There’s no space and everything close to my face is stone.” ~ Rilke, Pushing Through
Beowulf, another poem for delving deeper
Beowulf, considered one of the greatest English literary works, was written or transcribed around 700 BC. The author is unknown.
“There are many universal themes present in the epic, including the following: loyalty, the heroic code, good versus evil, courage, forgiveness, revenge, mortality, reputation, and generosity,” says Study.com.
I came across this epic English poem in David Whyte’s The Poetry of Self-Compassion when my husband passed away years ago.
In it, David Whyte talks about Beowulf, the hero in the poem who fights evil. Beowulf goes into a dark cave to meet his enemy and this is a time symbolic of the courage it takes to go into the dark parts of ourselves.
The imagery of being in a dark cave
I was captivated by this story, curious about Beowulf’s time in the cave’s darkness. I even purchased the translation by Seamus Heaney, the famous Irish poet, and attempted to read it, but quite honestly, it was probably outside of my intellectual ability at the time!
However, the imagery of the cave translates.
2. Trust the Process
I love this saying… and I repeat it as a mantra often. Trust the process.
In this case, it’s the process of grieving and letting go.
In How to Survive the Loss of Love by Peter McWilliams, Melba Colgrove Ph.D., and Harold H. Bloomfield, M.D. the forward says: “Trust that nature will do the healing. Know that the pain will pass, and, when it passes, you will be stronger, happier, more sensitive, and aware.”
Nonetheless, when we’re hurting, we just want the ache to go away.
Nothing is worse than heartache.
Was it a Soulmate You Lost?
In my work as a soul coach, I’m obviously interested in the idea of soulmates.
It’s my deeply held belief that the significant relationships in our lives are prearranged. It may not be a romantic relationship, but the significant relationships are not random.
In Spirited by Rebecca Rosen she talks more about soulmate relationships, how they show up in our lives, and the role our loved ones play.
Also, Thomas Moore explores the fascinating subject of soul mates in his book: Soul Mates: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationship.
Letting Go of Soulmates
In my work as a life coach and in my own life, I’ve found that it’s very difficult to let go of someone you love, especially when you consider them a soulmate.
It’s as though our soul is rooting for the relationship, even if it wasn’t a healthy relationship, like if you had an abusive partner.
I’ve heard people say about people who’ve mistreated and diminished them, “But, I know they were a soulmate.”
The pronouncement of them being a soulmate makes us want to hold on even longer.
But, was it a soulmate?
Soulmates are with us to help us learn and grow.
However, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a healthy relationship. Some soulmate relationships serve the purpose of helping us heal on a deep level and it can be very painful.
Thankfully, as you heal, you’re able to let go.
You know that point when you realize you won’t tolerate someone else’s poor behavior any longer?
That’s when you know that you’ve healed something important because you’re no longer willing to be hurt by the other person.
Letting go of someone you love is difficult because we felt a soulmate connection. We felt loved on a deep level by another human being.
3. Heal your Lifetrap
However, feeling a deep connection to another person, can be a sign that your lifetrap is being triggered.
In Reinventing Your Life: The Breakthrough Program to End Negative Behavior and Feel Great Again, the authors say that sometimes our strong reaction to another person is because they are triggering our “lifetrap”.
What is a Lifetrap?
A lifetrap is defined as a self-defeating behavior pattern.
Jeffrey E. Young, Ph.D., and Janet S. Klosko, Ph.D. wrote Reinventing Your Life and I believe it’s one of the most useful books I’ve read for explaining both my own and my client’s behavior.
I highly recommend this book for anyone curious to know why they keep repeating the same mistakes!
When you’re working hard to let go of someone you love, it’s the perfect time to understand yourself better and this book will help you do so.
4. Thinking Habits for Grief
When letting go of someone you love, sometimes it’s best to NOT think. Instead, take time during the day to just be quiet and still. Just ride the wave out …
First, focus on your breath as a woman in labor would. Overthinking causes more pain, and makes it worse. Plus, your thoughts take your focus away from feeling.
Grief is the body’s natural way to heal.
We need to feel it and it’s awful, it’s truly awful. But, our willingness to grieve, only to the degree that we can bear it, will help us heal.
And when you are thinking… which is the other 99% of the day, choose thoughts that love and support you.
Strategy with thinking
Allow yourself to feel in stages or bits and pieces to not overwhelm yourself. Since diving into the well of emotions that becomes overwhelming and we can get stuck there, it’s important to take breaks!
For example, grieve and then do something nurturing like take a walk or watch an uplifting show drive, or shop … then these activities are giving you a break, not a distraction from healing.
I used to take about 30 minutes to be with my emotions and then I’d give myself a treat of some kind, something to lighten the heaviness and help me step away from the heartache. I’d have my favorite coffee or a slice of pizza.
I’d go for a drive in a really relaxing place. Or, I’d just sit in the sun and let it wash over me. All of these light activities helped me balance my emotions.
This is especially helpful if you’re feeling anxious. Remind yourself to breathe, to get up and move around, and that you are not alone in your heartache.
5. Prioritize Self-Care
While you are grieving, you must be extra caring with yourself. You are in a tender spot and need comfort for at least a few months or more, depending on the situation.
This can be spending time alone, being in nature, and avoiding situations that feel like too much energetically.
Give yourself permission to make your healing a priority.
Seek therapy, talk to a trusted friend, read good materials that promote emotional healing, look into the emotional healing techniques that resonate with you, and basically focus on putting high-quality material into your brain.
You’ll have more to give in your next relationship and to your loved ones if you take good care of yourself.
Gratitude resets your energy
Gratitude is an important spiritual practice, regardless of what’s happening in your life. However, it’s especially helpful when your heart is aching.
You need to take a break from grief and remember the parts of your life that you’re grateful for.
I begin each day with a gratitude prayer and end the day with the same prayer.
Focus your attention each day on something you’re truly, in your heart grateful for. This will shift your energy for a moment or so.
One rule though is to not use gratitude to avoid grief. You can feel both!
Cry out to the universe
Cry out to the sacred otherness of life to help you understand.
Lean into your spiritual beliefs to remind you that you’re not alone in your heartache.
You may want to cry out to the universe to please join you, sit next to you, listen to what you feel, see what you see, and help you feel less alone.
Your connection to your soul and this universe is helpful for letting go of that which doesn’t serve you any longer.
6. Spend Time With Your Own Soul
When ending a love relationship, it’s crucial to connect with your soul.
How do you do that?
First, create enough downtime each day. When my husband passed away years ago, while I was grieving 24/7, I made a specific point of taking 30 minutes a day to just be quiet with myself.
I’d sit in my large closet because it was quiet in there and I felt safe. And I’d just be with whatever emotions came up for me.
I’d cry, meditate, or do the Emotional Freedom Technique and many other emotional release techniques.
They say the longest journey you’ll ever take is the 18″ journey from your head to your heart. To connect with your soul, drop into how you feel.
Here are some helpful tips for how to care for your soul during this time. Finding yourself after any loss takes time and lots of self-love. This is a difficult time, and it’s also a time for healing all the aching parts of you.
Feel sad, mad, or glad…
Part of being a soulful person, is honoring your life experience. This includes your experiences and emotions.
While humans tend to judge their emotions, catch yourself doing that. When you’re thinking… it’s stupid to feel this way, catch that thought.
Instead, ask yourself: What am I feeling? Then, stay with it.
Allow the feeling to just be there. Notice how it feels in your body. Notice how you feel overall. Just notice and resist the temptation to have an opinion about it.
It’s not easy to let go of someone you love. So, go easy on yourself. Remember that in feeling what is true for you and allowing plenty of time for rest and emotional release is very good for your well-being.
We learn in relationships, the good ones and bad ones.
I was recently watching Marry Me with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Lopez and she said something so darn true. Her character went through a breakup and afterwards she says something along the lines of… If it was all bad, it would be easier.