The end of a relationship is never ideal, but what if you don’t know why it ended? One night your former partner says “they’re done” and they walk out the front door. You are left with a million questions, number one being “WHY”? What happened? What changed? What happens now?
This traumatic event leaves you with a lack of closure and filled with emotional pain that feels like it might never end. In this post we will look at how to get emotional closure when a relationship ends, so you can begin the healing process and move on with your life.
What is closure in relationship?
Emotional closure is the point where we have let go of the memories so they no longer have any power over us. By having a sense of understanding, emotional peace, and accepting the fact that the relationship is really over, whether it ended because it ended over another person, rejection, or growing apart.
How to Get Emotional Closure: The Ultimate Guide to Letting Go of the Past
Put distance between you and your former spouse
You cannot move forward if you are still living in the past, waiting for a phone call, or stalking their social media accounts. This will only prolong the agony!
Not the time to be sentimental
Go through and remove all sentimental reminders of your relationship. At a minimum, grab a box and put everything that was left behind into it. Put in in the garage, basement, or give it to your ex to deal with.
I emptied his dresser and tossed everything into a box, wedding ring and all. Then I went through the closet and filled several black Hefty bags with all of his clothes. I placed all of it at the base of the stairs in front of the door for him to remove the next time he showed up at the house. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. In a way, I guess it gave me back a bit of control by physically removing “him” from my life.
Is moving an option?
If possible, move out of the home you shared together. At a minimum, switch things up and move into a different room. A change in routine can be helpful in separating the past from your future.
Cut off ALL contact with your former spouse! This is especially important if you are dealing with someone who is unstable (or a sociopath). You need time to heal, process and begin to move on. It is a bit trickier if you have kids together, but blocking their phone number and blocking them on social media can be a freeing feeling. Knowing that they cannot contact you just to play games…is priceless.
Six months after my ex walked out the door, he called me from Florida on our 25th wedding anniversary to “discuss the divorce financial settlement”. The only reason he called was to hurt me as much as possible. He knew what he was doing, he knew what day it was, but he never said a word about it. He can still text me if there was an emergency, but he cannot hear my voice, he cannot tell if I am upset…it’s just words in a text message. No Contact!
Be strong and set some boundaries
If you must be around your ex, set guidelines and boundaries. Have a calm conversation about how you would like to handle interactions moving forward wether at work, with family, or around your kids. If you need extra space to get your feet back under you, ask for it!
My ex was showing up at the house on weekends claiming to be cleaning the garage or working in the yard. I finally told him that my therapist had suggested that he stay completely away for a month so I could begin to heal. Actually, she told me to pack my car and move to a different state immediately, but I figured a month would give me time to think and come up with a plan. I didn’t hear from him again for almost six months!
Begin processing your emotions
Time to say goodbye
Write a goodbye letter to your ex. Put all of your thoughts and feelings down on paper. All of the things that you can’t say in person can live in that letter. Put it in an envelope, seal it, and put it away until you have moved on and you’re ready to burn it…I mean get closure.
Time to let go
Have you ever seen those Letting Go Rituals in movies or TV shows? You and your closest friend(s) get together for a ridding of the ex ceremony of sorts. You take an old photograph or something that has sentimental value and you burn it, or bury it to send it out of your life into the universe.
I placed all of the things that had sentimental value on the fireplace mantle when I left. The bottle of champagne from our wedding, the Chinese soldier he brought back from China, and the art print that he bought me for my birthday the year after we got married. I have no idea if he remembered what any of those things were, but it was freeing for me to just say goodbye and walk out the door without them. (He kept the house, I moved to Arizona)
Find ways to get creative and give my mind an outlet for your emotions. I am a food photographer, so I threw myself into photography classes to learn more about composition, styling and color combinations. Painting, sculpting, film making, any new hobby your heart desires can help you express your feelings and begin to feel better.
Focus on “you”
Now is the time to focus on yourself, not the breakup. Acts of self-care can go a long way towards helping you feel better about yourself and your future. There is an entire Self-care category to help give you some ideas.
Let it out
The best way to move forward is to get it all out. Talk to your close friends and family members, go out to dinner or a movie. Helping them resolve their issues can also help you feel better about yourself and distract you from your worries and concerns. If any of your friends is in a similar situation, you can boost each other up and navigate the challenges together.
If talking to friends and family is not enough, it might be time to bring in expert help. My therapist was annoying, but it was nice to have someone to just blurt everything out to in a safe space. She gave her feedback and opinions, which wasn’t always what I wanted to hear, but it was very helpful.
My goal is to get our Facebook Group up and running so everyone has a safe place to ask questions or just vent about what is bothering them.
Time to forgive?
Depending on your situation, forgiving your ex may be the next step in getting closure. In time we are able to see the “whole picture”. Maybe there were warning signs, maybe they were subtle hints that things weren’t going as well as you thought. Could it be that they were not the only one to blame in the breakup?
My doctor told me: “I wouldn’t understand this now, but someday I would see that walking out was the best decision that he could have made for my life.” Three years later my best friend and I were setting up my new bed and putting the final touches on my new bedroom. In that moment I started laughing and told her “Xxxx would absolutely H-A-T-E this room, it is so “me”! That was the moment when I knew I had made it to the other side, I had completely moved on and was able to finally make my own decisions.
Looking to the Future
Do you have any personal goals that you would like to achieve now that you are single? A new career? Move to a new city? Go back to school? You may want to start small, but start thinking about the future that you would like to have. What things do you need to do to achieve those goals? Goals that can build on each other will allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment along the way.
Who got the friends in your divorce? Oddly enough all of his friends and coworkers kept me on as a friend and he was no longer invited to parties. That of course all came to an end when I left the state, so I had to force my introverted self out into the world to meet new people. In hindsight, it was better that I left the mutual friends behind, they would have just been a constant reminder of the past.
Go out and explore, go on an adventure! With the drama of the last 3 years, I have not gone to nearly as many places as I would have hoped. There are still trails, canyons and sunsets to enjoy. Get out of your comfort zone and try new things, check out the places that you have heard of but have not gone to yet. Now is your chance to live the life that you have always wanted.
Check out Tips for Dating after Divorce
Getting back into the dating pool after divorce may seem daunting, these essential tips will help guide you through the fears and answer questions that you may have.
How To Get Emotional Closure In 5 Simple Steps
- Accept the reality of the situation and try to let go of what happened
- Recognize that there is no way for things to be different than they are
- Find meaning in the situation and see it as an opportunity for a new life
- Live in the present moment and make plans for the future
- Focus on yourself by doing one self-care act each day
Getting emotional closure is one of the most important steps in letting go and moving on. Emotional closure from a broken relationship helps us to feel better about ourselves, our future, and have a more positive outlook on life. It also helps us to move on from our past, which can be crucial for our future relationships.