How Breakups Resemble the Death of Someone Close

When people meet and become couples, they create a strong emotional bond.

For some lucky couples, this bond last for years, while for others, this bond can get broken.

When couples break up, it’s a painful event, and commonly resembles what happens when a loved one dies.

Each person in a breakup is damaged.  Given the individual circumstances, both or one will suffer emotional pain for months and possibly years.

In these cases, one or both people will be bereaved since they have suffered a loss.  “Bereaved” comes from the root word meaning “robbed.”  Losing a loved one is being robbed on that attachment.

The could will also go through a period of grief that is very individualized.  It is a form of internal emotional pain.

People will enter a period of mourning, which is an external expression of this loss.

Finally, there is a period of healing.  The difference is that in a death, there is a finality to the event.

In a dating situation, there is always the possibility of getting back together.  In my book, I note that a writer one said “The worst reconciliation is better than the best divorce.”

For people over 50, I think reconciliation is the best choice since dating at that age or older is an intense emotional, financial and physical quest. People over 50 are also more aware of their own finality. With  that in mind, reconciliation is the best path. It sure beats starting out all over again.

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The Devastating Impact of Breakups

After a breakup, each person has their own road to follow and time needed to recovery.  Since the brain treats any breakup in the same way as the death of a loved one, this is a traumatic and stressful time, as anyone of any age who has gone through it can attest.

After a breakup, each person suffers from decreases in self-concept, lower self esteem and loneliness. This can be made even more worse when the breakup is sudden and all communications are cut off.

People do recover after a breakup, however.  It takes time and now there is a new study that shows how some people can cope with the breakup better than other,  The study in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal, conducted by Grace M. Larson and David A. Sbarra, found that despite the common advice  friends often give to one party in a breakup, it is better to dwell on the other person after a breakup because it improves self-esteem, and gives you a better perspective when you share your feelings about the breakup with other. Personal reflection also leads to a faster recovery.

But the study, like many others falls short of providing large pieces about the puzzle of broken relationships. Some couples break up over a reason; others don’t. Some couples break up over time; others do it overnight.  Some couples do it by mutual agreement; others by the decision of only one partner, which leaves the other person grasping for answers and reconciliation.

This is part of the universal human condition.  The ill-effects of a break up are in every race, culture and nationality because we are all human. Breaking up is one of the most common human experiences we all share, along with birth, death, happiness, joy, pain and suffering. Studies like this offer some small insights, but they do not offer any real answers to the human condition which has no universal answers.


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How We Grieve After Bad Breakups

The mind considers a bad breakup the same as a death. It triggers the same chemical reactions and profound loss.

Commonly, it is followed by restlessness, hostility, and an overwhelming preoccupation with our ex-companion. Some people fall into chronic grief, but most people are more resilient over time.

The difference between grieving over someone who dies and breaking up, it that you can see your see you ex again. Seeing the dead again requires a miracle. Seeing your ex again only requires humanity.

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