The loss of a loved one or the ending of a long-term relationship often leads to feelings of grief. In healing from the loss of the relationship, you can ask yourself three questions to help alleviate some of the reoccurring thoughts you may have. These reoccurring thoughts often occur due to the incompleteness of the relationship.
According to Friedman & James, authors of The Grief Recovery Handbook, when a relationship has ended and it remains incomplete in our minds, we often find ourselves going over and over what could have been better, more or different. These thoughts run through our minds automatically and are influence on the physical symptoms of grief such as fatigue, lack of motivation, disinterest, and constant crying. To help reduce these symptoms, take some time to reflect on the three questions:
- What would you have wanted more of?
- What would you have wanted to be better?
- What would you have wanted to do differently?
Answer these questions truthfully. Sometimes we would have wanted to say these words to the person but certain circumstances got in the way. It is hard to speak from an emotional place sometimes. By accepting that it wasn’t possible then but that you acknowledge it now, you will begin to develop a more complete sense of the relationship.
You will be in a better position to take actions that may alleviate some of your distress. For example, if you’ve discovered you would have wanted to tell the person that you appreciated them more, then write that person a letter. The letter does not need to be delivered in order to feel relief. Getting these words out on paper will be helpful in completing some of your thoughts.
Through accepting your newly acknowledged reflections, you will begin to develop a more balanced view of the relationship which is essential for healing.
For more information on the topic of incomplete grief and to learn more about how to heal after loss, I recommend reading The Grief Recovery Handbook by John W. James & Russell Friedman.