Q: My mother is seeing her former colleague. He is married and in the process of getting a divorce. He moved in with us six months ago, and then suddenly left and went back to his wife. He has stopped responding to messages. Mom is devastated. How do I help her?
Ans: You can help your mum by holding space for her feelings and asking her how she wants to be supported. Just be present to her sorrow without reacting or trying to make things better. Things will get better on their own but they will take time. There is a natural flow to painful emotions and even if they theoretically last only 90 seconds, us thinking about them makes them last much longer.
Your mother will need to process all her emotions first. It is very important for her to acknowledge what she is going through and grief. Heartbreak pain is a pain of separation. It is the same pain we experience when we lose someone to death or illness. It needs to be felt and validated, no matter how much we feel like distracting ourselves and running away from it.
The pain might be followed by anger, sadness and even denial or, by your mother trying to get back with this man. Just be with her through all and keep on asking her what kind of emotional and tangible support you can help with. What she needs the most right now is to know that someone is there for her and that she is being heard without judgement.
Slowly start suggesting some of the activities that help hack happiness chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. So many simple things in life can bring a smile on our face. Meeting a friend, petting a dog, sun exposure, exercising, meditation, music and massages have been part of self-healing practices for centuries, and they work. Take it slow, healing takes time.
The writer is an Intimacy & Relationship Coach, Founder of The Intimacy Curator, an organisation promoting self-discovery through emotional and sexual wellbeing (www.theintimacycurator.com). (Have a query? Send it on email@example.com)Candid Corner: To pursue or not to pursue!
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