How to Survive
the Loss of a Love

You Are a Better Person for Having Loved

  • You cared.
  • You became involved.
  • You learned to invest yourself.
  • Your interaction permitted loving and caring.
  • Even though you lost, you are a better person for having loved.

    You were the best of loves,
    you were the worst of loves
    and you left behind several
    unintended gifts:
    Through you I re-examined my
    need (uh, desire?) for
    one significant other to
    share my life. You commanded in
    me an unwilling (but
    probably much-needed)
    re-evaluation of self, behavior patterns
    relationshipping, & a corresponding change
    in attitudes; i.e. growth.
    I'm nicer to people.
    I'm more in touch with my feelings
    the things and persons around me, life.
    And, of course, a scattering of poems
    (the best of poems, the worst of poems)
    that never would have happened
    without your disruptions.

  • Sixty-eight:
    Praise Yourself for the Courage to Relate

  • You are a richer, deeper, wiser person for having invested in a relationship--even if that relationship ended in loss.
  • Praise yourself for the courage to relate.
  • "Courage" is based on the French word for "from the heart." It took great heart to care, to be vulnerable, to love. Praise, honor and celebrate your heart.
  • Would we dare quote something as clichd as, "It is far, far better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"? Of course we wouldn't.
  • Now's the time to see what lessons you learned from your loss, and what possible good is contained within the loss.

    no matter what
    you feel it for,
    is still love.
    The object does not
    change the emotion.
    But the emotion
    quite often
    changes the object.


  • A new chapter in your life has begun, and is by now well under way.
  • Know that you have the ability to make the changes this new chapter requires.
  • Be prepared to make an adjustment, perhaps two or three.
  • Now is a good time to start experimenting with new behaviors, new activities, new ways of fulfilling the day-to-day needs that are still unattended.
  • It will take courage, but it is exciting.
  • This might even be fun!

    The need you
    still remains.
    But less and less
    you seem the way
    to fill that need.
    I am.

    Start Anew

  • Be open.
  • Be open to new people, places, ideas, experiences.
  • It's time to move far beyond the "I'll never love again--love only brings pain" attitude.
  • Do your best to
  • Visit new places.
  • Now's the time to
  • Choose (and pursue) new goals.

    The difference between
    love and loving
    is the difference between
    fish and fishing.

    Invite New People into Your Life

  • Now is the time to make new friends, associates, colleagues.
  • Attend meetings, concerts, plays, social events--any public gathering of kindred souls. (It's fine to go alone.)
  • Meet your neighbors.
  • Find in yourself the courage to introduce yourself to anyone--even a total stranger.
  • When making new acquaintances, ask questions that require more than a "yes" or "no" answer.
  • Use "how" and "why" questions rather than only "what" or "who."
  • Offer to drive people home or invite them out for a cup of coffee.
  • Carry paper and pen to share phone numbers. You might even have calling cards printed. (Whatever happened to calling cards?)

    I am not
    a total
    I am a

    Develop New Interests. . .

  • Now's the time to develop new interests.
  • Archery's always held some fascination? How about water polo? Marco Polo? Piano solo? Explore whatever or wherever you want to explore--on video or in person.
  • Is it time to get that personal computer?
  • A new language? Brush up on an old language? (English, perhaps?) How about a course in bookkeeping--or bee keeping?
  • Gardening? Sewing? Canning? Auto maintenance? Garment weaving? Gourmet cooking? Metal shop?
  • Read a book. Take a class. Learn--and above all do--something new.
  • Yes, we can even recommend a book on computers! It's Peter McWilliams' Personal Computer Book and it's available at local bookstores, or by calling 1-800-LIFE-101.

    . . .But Don't Forget the Old Interests

  • Don't forget about the old interests and activities you've let lapse.
  • Rediscover the ones that gave you a special sense of achievement, excitement, joy.
  • In choosing new and old interests, be sure to intersperse those activities which require people and those which you do best alone.


  • Perhaps you feel shy, or simply don't want to make new contacts on your own. If so, groups may be the answer.
  • There are literally hundreds of groups you can join. Check the Yellow Pages under "Clubs," "Associations," "Fellowships," etc. You can join a group to learn something, to travel, to meet people, to celebrate common interests--there are so many possibi lities.
  • Church-sponsored groups are readily available.
  • There are many groups that cater especially to the newly-single-again individual. They include
  • The Toastmasters' Club helps develop speaking skills that may be helpful in expressing yourself to others.
  • Adult education classes, "Y" groups, and programs sponsored by The American Youth Hostels offer opportunities not only for learning new skills, but for meeting others in a comfortable environment.

    Someday we are going to be lovers.
    Maybe married.
    At the very least, an affair.
    What's your name?

    Self-Improvement Anyone?

  • It may be time to change (one at a time, please) something you'd like to change about yourself:
  • Seek professional help if necessary, and/or join a recognized group (AA, Weight Watchers, etc.). Be gentle with yourself, but set a realistic goal and then achieve it.
  • At the same time, accentuate your positives. Be even more
  • A great book to read is LIFE 101: Everything We Wish We Had Learned About Life in School--But Didn't by Peter McWilliams. Available at your local bookstore, or by calling 1-800-LIFE-101.

    is a very
    Now you see it,
    now you don't.

    Your Words Have Power

  • You should not use "should."
  • Never use "never."
  • We wish you wouldn't use "wish."
  • Hopefully you'll give up "hope."
  • Maybe you'd be better off without "maybe."
  • You must not use "must."
  • Things are seldom black or white. We live in a world of "often," "sometimes" and "seldom." Using those words gives those around you more freedom--more freedom to be themselves, to be human and simply to be.
  • And be sure to give the same freedom to yourself.

    I've heard a lot
    about the dangers of
    living beyond one's means.
    What worries me, however,
    is my current habit of
    living beyond my meanings.

    Think "Both/And" Rather Than "Either/Or"

  • Your relationship with whomever or whatever you loved was both "good" and "bad." Such is life.
  • Life is not either good or bad. Life includes both good and bad.
  • Life is not lived in one extreme, struggling to eliminate the other. Life is the continuum between the extremes.
  • After a loss, people tend to dwell on the darker side of life and long for a time when everything will be "perfect" again.
  • Life was never perfect. Life always included both perfect and imperfect. It always has, and it always will.
  • Welcome to life.

    Perfect joy and
    perfect sorrow.
    One following another,
    following another.
    The poles, the extremes,
    of emotional life, and
    all points in between.
    Following one another.
    Following one another.
    Gently up, gently down,
    like the ocean under a boat.

    The Freedom to Choose

  • Enjoy your freedom.
  • You're in control now.
  • Make the most of the ability to choose
  • You can make (and make well) the necessary decisions to
  • You are bringing order into your world again. You can choose the world you want to have around you.
  • A great book on choosing goals and fulfilling dreams is DO IT! Let's Get Off Our Buts by Peter McWilliams. Available (guess where!) at your local bookstore, or by calling 1-800-LIFE-101.

    I don't want
    to build my
    life around you,
    but I do want to
    include you
    in the building
    of my life.

    It's OK to Ask

  • Seek the support of others in achieving your goals.
  • Do not, however, depend upon their approval or assistance before you move toward your goal.
  • If they don't want to go to Hawaii with you, aloha alone.

    It is a risk to love.
    What if it doesn't
    work out?
    but what if it does?

    It's OK for Others to Say No

  • Rejection isn't personal.
  • When people say "no" to you, they're merely saying "yes" to some other portion of their life. You have nothing to do with it. Therefore, there's no need to take it personally.
  • When you learn to allow others to say "no" and not become upset by it, you get two rewards: (1) you are less upset, and (2) you tend to ask others more often for what you want. (If you don't experience "no" as a rejection, then there's no fear of reje ction.)
  • The more people you ask, the more chances you have of getting what you want.
  • In baseball, the very best hitters only get three hits every ten times at bat. And guess who has the all-time strike-out record? Babe Ruth.
  • If one-third the people you ask say yes, you are doing very well. Even if only one in 100 says yes, that's one more than you would have had without asking.

    I don't know
    how to lose.
    That's part of the problem.
    I don't know
    how to win, either.
    That's the other part.

    It's OK for Others to Say Yes

  • Some people fear acceptance more than rejection.
  • This usually springs from a lack of self worth. When we don't feel worthy, we think things like, "You'll go out with me? I thought you had good taste," or ask questions such as, "I'm hired? What's wrong with the company?"
  • The secret of self-esteem is to do good things, and remember that you've done them.
  • Learn to accept acceptance.
  • When people say "You look lovely," "That was beautiful," "I appreciate your skill," "You make me feel great," take it in.

    help me.
    show me that
    I can love with
    fears, frustrations,
    falsehoods, hesitations.
    show me the
    face of

    Fear Can Be a Friend

  • When we label an emotion "fear," we tend to back away from the action causing the fear (basically, anything new).
  • If we label the same emotion "excitement" or "adventure," we have the energy to move into the new activity with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.
  • Fear is the energy to do your best in a new situation.
  • There is no need to "get rid of" fear. We need only reprogram our attitude toward fear. If we treat it as a friend, it makes a great companion on our explorations of the new.

    The world is good.
    I feel whole & directed.
    Touch my Joy with me.
    I cannot keep
    my smiles
    in single file.

    The Antidote for Anxiety Is Action

  • Worried about something?
  • Do something about it.
  • Take a physical action to correct, solve, communicate or educate yourself about whatever concerns you.
  • The action may be as simple as a phone call, writing a letter, taking a walk or reading a book.
  • You may discover there is nothing to worry about. If you discover there is something to worry about, use worry as the energy to make an improvement.

    We are such
    good friends
    you & I.
    After being
    with you
    for only
    a little while
    no longer
    relate to

    Postpone Procrastination

  • We're going to write this chapter real soon.
  • Honest.
  • We promise.
  • Cross our hearts.
  • Tomorrow.
  • Thursday at the latest.

    I have this
    great poem on
    I'll send it to you
    real soon.
    As soon as
    I write it

    The Past

  • Remember: the healing process continues even while you're growing.
  • Memories may come drifting back one Sunday morning or when "our song" is played on the radio.
  • Expect this. It doesn't mean you're sinking back into depression, it's just the ebb and flow of healing and growing.
  • Be with the feeling. Know that it soon will pass.

    I know our
    time together
    is no more.
    Then why do
    come to mind
    that call you
    Why do I plan
    that include
    Why do I
    with love
    I never felt
    while you were


  • You may experience the loss in miniature when anniversaries, birthdays or other significant reminders appear.
  • Know that your recovery from the pain of such reminders will be faster, and that all you've learned to survive, heal and grow the first time around will be just as valuable the second time.
  • The third anniversary will hurt less; the fourth, even less.
  • Note the dates of upcoming anniversaries. Plan activities that are particularly enjoyable, uplifting and comforting on those days.
  • Eventually, all you'll remember is the loving.

    It's been two years
    since we talked last.
    You lead a church choir
    The pauses between your
    sentences are longer.
    More pregnant--or so
    you would like the world
    to believe. They make me
    as uncomfortable as
    "A person out of the past"
    you keep saying, unwilling
    to accept my present.
    Questions answered by questions.
    Statements questioned by silence.
    Your ambiguity and my ambivalence
    clash again,
    for the last time.


  • You can enjoy being alone again.
  • Explore and appreciate solitude.
  • "Alone" does not mean "lonely."
  • Solitary pursuits can be
  • Enjoying yourself is a prerequisite to genuinely enjoying others.

    The difference between
    "a11 one"
    and a little space.


  • You'll find yourself once again remarkable in touch with your creative energy. Do something with it.
  • What do you do that is creative? Write? Sing? Dance? Act? Bake cherry pies? Give massages?
  • Well, whatever it is or they are, DO!
  • For example, did you know that you are a poet? Prove it to yourself. Sit down with a pencil and paper. (Pen and paper will do.) Find out what you're feeling, find a though or group of words that fits that feeling and write them down.

  • Now, instead of writing the words this way,

    this way.
    Put words that you want to
    on separate lines.
    "they" taught you about

    Do this three or four times. Keep it up. You'll get a poem. Honest.

    Rule 1: Line for line, poetry need not rhyme.

    Rule 2: Honest, clear expression of a fully felt experience is what poetry is all about.


  • Be happy, cheerful, joyful, delighted, pleased--as often as you can, as much as you can, for as long as you can.
  • You may feel some guilt about being joyful after a loss. Know that you are not being disloyal to the love you lost by moving on with your life--and moving on must certainly include joy.

    This poem
    is a kiss
    for your mind.


  • As you grow, you will begin to regain your sense of appreciation, of awe. The sense of childlike wonder, which was lost to you for a while, will return.
  • Enjoy it.
  • Sunsets and children laughing. City streets and country roads. The wonder of "this time called life."
  • The Wonder Years need never end.

    The cosmic dance
    to celestial melodies,
    free form within
    patterns of precise
    The painting I know
    so well. The canvas
    I want to learn,
    and, perhaps,
    the artist.

    Do Something for Someone Else

  • If you begin feeling sorry for yourself (not genuine sorrow, but the "poor put-upon me" variety), the best way to cure this is to do something for someone else.
  • Giving is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
  • As the saying goes, "Don't return a favor; pass it on." Now's the time to pass on all the good favors you received during your time of loss.

    In taking,
    I get.
    In giving,
    I receive.
    In being loved,
    I am filled full.
    In loving,
    I am fulfilled.
    The greatest gift
    is to fill a
    need unnoticed.

    Appreciate Your Growth

  • Having weathered a crisis, expect to discover
  • You're changing and growing into

    The world outside
    is a mirror,
    reflecting the
    good & bad
    joy & sorrow
    laughter & tears
    within me.
    Some people are
    difficult mirrors
    to look into,
    but you
    I look at you
    and I see
    all the beauty
    inside of me.

    Your Happiness Is Up to You

  • Happiness depends on your attitude toward what happens to you, not on what happens to you.
  • It may sound revolutionary, but problems don't have to make you unhappy.
  • This runs counter to our cultural programming--which tells us we must react in certain negative ways to certain "negative" events.
  • Nonetheless, happiness is always our choice. That is a reality of life.
  • Stop waiting for Prince Charming, Cinderella, more money, the right job, total health or anything else before you're happy.
  • Stop waiting.
  • Choose satisfaction.
  • Be happy.
  • Now.

    I am worthy.
    I am worthy of my life and
    all the good that is in it.
    I am worthy of
    my friends and their friendship.
    I am worthy of spacious skies, amber waves
    of grain and purple mountain majesties
    above the fruited plain. (I am worthy, too,
    of the fruited plain.)
    I am worthy of a degree of happiness
    that could only be referred to as
    "sinful" in less enlightened times.
    I am worthy of creativity,
    sensitivity and appreciation.
    I am worthy of peace of mind, peace on Earth,
    peace in the valley and a piece of the action.
    I am worthy of God's presence in my life.
    I am worthy of my love.


  • Throw a Survival Celebration party.
  • Invite everyone who helped in your survival, healing and growth. Ask each of them to bring a friend (a great way to meet new people).
  • If a party is not your style, be sure to acknowledge the help and support you received from others. Send thank-you notes, flowers, gifts or whatever you find appropriate.
  • Remember the value of the help you received when you come across others in need.
  • And, especially, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
  • You've been through losing, surviving, healing and growing.
  • Now it's time for celebrating.


    My love and
    God's Light
    be with you
    in all that
    you are and
    in all that
    you do.

    Purchase the book from Amazon


    For information about a personal telephone consultation with 
    Dr. Bloomfield, please click here


    Copyright © 1967-1996
    Harold H. Bloomfield, M.D.
    & Peter McWilliams