“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”
– Mark Twain
A broken heart is one of those experiences we can all relate to, but it is an experience that has to be felt alone. However, an important part of the healing process is the support of friends and family.
Although it’s hard to see your friend sad and upset, it’s important to remind them that breaking up with a person they love more than anything in the world, but who did not know how to appreciate them in the right way, is actually not such a big failure – it can help them. They say someone will never know how strong they really are until being strong is the only choice they have to make.
We are wired to love and express deep affection, but for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. When we love deeply, we also hurt deeply when the breakup comes. That reaction equals nothing short of a heart-stabbing pain, loneliness, and seemingly eternal hopelessness. [Read: Why does love hurt so much when it goes bad?]
Comforting a broken heart
How do you help a friend mend a broken heart, and how do you help them move forward and find comfort when all they feel is pain? It is possible to move forward, but it is hard work. I have been there too, and while we may all travel different paths to achieve the healing, you can rest assured that the healing will come.
Helping a friend who is going through a breakup is not always easy. Sometimes the men appear to be stronger than women, but they hurt too. I have had the privilege of offering my shoulder to a man who cried so hard after his girlfriend cheated on him that it made me cry too. I was happy to have been there for him. Today, we are still friends, and he’s now happily married.
It can take a lot of time and effort to help a friend through this period of grief, but that’s what friends are for…we bear each other’s pain. If your friend is going through a breakup, your presence at this time is valuable, because breakups are hard to cope with all by yourself. [Read: 15 life lessons you can learn from your own break ups]
Helping a friend deal with a breakup
Here are some tips that might help anyone suffering from a broken heart. They will offer some insight on finding a way back to happiness. A broken heart is never the end of the road; there is always hope, and your friend can learn to love again with purpose. After all, we should never be afraid to love again.
#1 Listen and don’t judge. Listening is one of the most helpful and important things we can do for a friend. It sounds simple, but every so often we don’t listen. We tend to offer advice even before we hear the real problem. So just listen, and let them know you hear and understand their pain. They are likely to feel confused, in addition to feeling sad and, ultimately, angry.
Whatever the reasons that were given for breaking off the relationship, we are always going to be left with questions. Being confused is perfectly logical, especially if your friend didn’t see the breakup coming.
Remember, it is okay to listen and offer support, but you must take breaks and set boundaries. Talking about a breakup for a prolonged period can be depressing. [Read: 8 post break up questions you need to find answers to]
#2 Allow them to cry. Crying heals the soul, and cry they will. Nature gave us tears for a reason. When something is festering inside of us, whether emotional or physical, it needs to come out. Cleansing our wounds has to occur before the healing begins. At this point, crying is the best medicine; it will take a load off their shoulders.
#3 Don’t lecture. As humans we tend to lecture, give advice, and point out all the things that the other person did wrong. Now is not the time to compare your situation with theirs. It can be less draining on both of you if you simply allow your friend to talk it through.
There is no need to play the blame game as to who was right or wrong or to speak badly about an ex. If the relationship is over, then that’s what it is…over.
#4 Be patient. It is easier to maintain friendships during the good times. So it is only natural that when there are hard times, such as a breakup, it can put a strain on the friendship. This can be frustrating.
Remind yourself that you have to be patient and empathetic to the situation. This might mean that you will have to endure listening to the same questions and stories repeatedly. But maybe there was a time when someone helped you during a breakup. So remind yourself of how patient that friend was during your difficult moments. [Read: Finding love again – A lesson on hope]
#5 Move on. After a breakup, it is common to deny the finality of the situation and to reach out, asking for second chances or trying to get answers. But avoiding contact with your ex is the best remedy for the healing process to take effect. This is easier said than done. In order to move on in a healthy way, your friend must grieve, and the breakup represents the grieving process.
They cannot heal if they constantly try to reestablish contact with an ex. Rather, this is the perfect opportunity to focus on their own self-worth. Encourage your friend to explore new opportunities and to do something different with their life. Tell them that they don’t need anyone or anything to make them happy. Their happiness is their own responsibility. [Read: 12 reasons why the no contact rule is the best way forward]
#6 Do something fun. Help your friend to let their hair down by going dancing and having a few drinks. Laughter is a good medicine too, so find things to laugh about together and fun places to go with your friend. Try to avoid the places where your friend’s ex might be, as it will only bring back painful memories.
There will be good and bad days; healing is a process.
#7 Work it out. Take your friend to the gym so they can work out their grief and get some immediate relief. Running, swimming, walking, or any form of exercise will stimulate the brain chemicals that foster growth of nerve cells for healing, both emotionally and physically. Help your friend take charge and become a master of their mind and body.
#8 List your strengths. Encourage your friend to use the time to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to list them. Then they can take the challenge of moving forward from all the sadness and pain and try to be productive.
This is the time for your friend to raise their standards before embarking on the next relationship. And finally, help your friend to understand that they did nothing wrong; maybe their ex did nothing wrong too. Sometimes, things just don’t work out for whatever reason. [Read: 14 things to keep in mind when you bump into an ex]
Going forward, your role is to help your friend take baby steps and to live life one day at a time until they get their strength back. Love doesn’t just die; it only changes because it morphs into something else…self-appreciation.
Your friend needs to know that even though their heart has been bruised and burned from past relationships, it is okay to love again, but don’t rush it. Priest and writer Henri Nouwen urges us to love again because the heart only expands with the love we are able to pour forth.
[Read: How to move on from a break up with a smile]
A wise man once said that sometimes the only thing that can repair your broken heart is actually the one that broke it in the first place, which means you. So, keep that in mind, and try to be the one in charge of your emotions. You can do it!