How to “Get Over It”

How to “Get Over It”

How to “Get Over It” – Getting Over a Divorce You Didn’t Want

Everyone likes to toss around the phrase, “get over it.” If you’ve been going through the pain of a loss, you may desperately want to “get over it,” but how does one actually accomplish such a thing?

I’ve been a therapist in Denver for a long time, and have done my share of grief and divorce counseling. I know that simply hoping to heal a broken heart, anesthetizing yourself with booze, or distracting yourself with busyness does not help you “get over it” — for long, anyway. Unfortunately, the only way out is through the post-divorce stages of grief.

Asking ‘how to get over a breakup’ or ‘how long does it take to get over someone’ will yield a different answer for most people, but none of these questions should ever be minimized.

I also know from my years as a breakup therapist that there are many different kinds of losses that deserve the respect of grieving. Whether you are dealing with a death, or a more subtle, hidden loss like the loss of a cherished relationship, a miscarriage, a pet’s death, a move, the loss of a dream, or the end of an era in your life: you need to grieve. It’s necessary in order to heal and move on.

‘Getting Over It’ Means Grieving

Grief is a complex and often misunderstood process. We often talk about grief like it’s a hurdle to be overcome, but it’s a necessary and natural response that guides us through a transformative journey towards acceptance. When we are experiencing grief, we’re slowly making peace with a reality we can’t change, so that we can continue moving forward even if something truly awful has happened.

Grief provides a space to acknowledge and express a wide range of emotions that accompany loss, like sadness, anger, guilt, and even relief. Rather than suppressing these emotions, healthy grieving encourages you to explore them and accept them, while also recognizing that you will not feel this way forever. This emotional engagement is how you process the impact of the loss on your life, which ultimately allows you to “get over it”.

Creating a New Narrative after Loss

Part of healthy grieving is constructing a new narrative for yourself that integrates the loss. It prompts a reassessment of your identity, values, and relationships, allowing for a redefinition of self in the absence of what or whom is no longer in your life. The process of grappling with the meaning and significance of the loss helps you to wrap your head around the reality of your changed circumstances. Then you can find a way to move forward with a sense of continuity, even in the face of profound change.

Here’s a piece of good news: Creating a new narrative for yourself is an active process that you get to participate in. It’s also totally subjective — there are no “right” or “wrong” ways to make meaning out of the events of your life. You don’t have to accept the first version of the story that you land on either, for example, that your life is ruined because your marriage ended in divorce, or that you’ll never be successful because you lost your job. Your narrative can actually be quite positive and empowering, and it can help you feel better about the situation rather than worse.

This is why you sometimes hear about how people’s lives were transformed in positive ways in the wake of tragedy. Loss is a devastating fact of life, but it can also lead to tremendous growth and renewal.

Today on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m going to teach you about the step-by-step process of grieving. Listen, and learn how to help yourself “get over it” in a healthy and authentic way.

The only way out is through. Listen now to learn how to “get over it,” and move on to the next chapter of your life.

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How to “Get Over It”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, and you’re listening to The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast. 

[Intro Song: Grief and Pine by Dave Shuford, Margot Bianca & Pigeons]

Dr. Lisa: That auditory dreaminess is Grief and Pine by Dave Shuford, Margot Bianca, and the Pigeons. Appropriate because today, on The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast, we’re talking about grief and how to “get over it”. It’s important because there are lots of different kinds of grief. In my experience, I’ve learned that grieving is an intrinsic part of, ironically, being able to be happy. Because until you’re really able to grieve losses, it’s very difficult to move on from them. 

We think about grief a lot of times as just being reserved for when somebody dies. The truth is that there are lots of different kinds of grief, more subtle kinds of grief, and I do a lot of work with clients in my practice around how to move through that process. Because I know it’s so common, it wouldn’t surprise me if you would benefit from having this conversation, too. So, that is the purpose of our show today. 

As always, I’m here, in efforts to bring you things that would be of service to you and would benefit your life. If you have ideas or things that you’d like me to talk about, in particular, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I am always just thrilled when somebody gets in touch with me to suggest an idea or to say, “Hi!” Because I just make these podcasts. Sometimes I don’t know if people listen to them or not. So to get feedback from you, ideas and suggestions, it makes me happy because it feels like there’s a purpose behind what I’m doing. 

Also, if you ever feel like it, you can leave a review for The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast on iTunes, which would help other people find the podcast and enjoy it as you have if, in fact, you are enjoying it. If you’d like to get in touch with me, lots of ways. I’m on Facebook facebook.com/drlisabobby and Twitter @DrLisaBobby. You can read my blog. I have articles in addition to the podcast or listen to past episodes of The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast on drlisaboby.com. Then, my practice website, I don’t know if I mentioned this or not, I do have a private practice in Denver, where I work as a therapist, marriage counselor, and a life coach. You can learn more about that at growingself.com

On the website, there are ways to get in touch with me, ways to subscribe to the podcast if you’d like to. Also while you’re there, don’t forget to check out my Happiness Class. I put together a free online training technique that, quite frankly, I teach my clients so often I figured I would make it publicly available. Everybody benefits from it so much. If you go to my website, just click on the happiness class button, and it’ll walk you through a process where you can sign up, totally free, that you can download. It’s an hour-long class where you’ll be able to walk through. And I’ve made a little workbook for you, so you can check that out too and use that technique. Okay, that’s all. 

So, today, let’s talk about grief. When I say grief, what I’m talking about is the actual emotional and psychological process that you, and by you, I mean all of us, need to go through in order to really get over something. People say, “Get over it.” They toss that around and expect that we should be able to get over things. That sounds good, but how do you actually get over something? The way that you actually get over something is through the process of grieving.

We grieve losses. So, first of all, to start at the beginning, let’s talk about loss. Losses are just inevitable. It is part of being a human being to have losses. Some losses are very dramatic, and they’re clear. As I mentioned, when somebody you love dies, we all get that. At those times, there’s support, and there’s direction for how to cope. Books have been written on how to go on when somebody who you love has died. There are support groups. There are people who make you food. There are people who send you flowers. There’s a lot of stuff. There’s a lot of support. There’s also respect for that kind of loss because it is a big deal. 

But, there are many other more subtle kinds of losses that we all experience: the loss of a cherished relationship, having a miscarriage, having a pet die, moving, relocating is a loss of a kind, also, losing a dream that you’ve been holding on to for a long time, or even just closing the door on the end of an era in your life. These are all times when grieving is called for, and it’s necessary to grieve in order to be able to heal and move on. But there isn’t the same level of respect or understanding for these kinds of losses. So there’s not a lot of support, there’s not a lot of guidance, and even awareness. That kind of grieving is even something to do or that that might be the path through it. That’s how we get over it, right? 

I know this because I talk to people all the time, who are stuck in the swamp of pain and anxiety around these kinds of losses, coming to therapy or coaching and they are thinking about what’s been lost a lot. They’re thinking about what should be happening that isn’t happening. They are stuck in the past in some way. Grieving is really the process that allows that swamp of pain to be drained and makes them able to walk back out onto solid ground and into a new chapter. That new chapter is the time after: rebuilding and creating a new life, moving on.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, society doesn’t offer the same kind of support for those more subtle losses. I say that there’s a lot of support for people with major losses, but the truth is that compared to other cultures, the modern-day American culture is fairly impatient with grief – and the term “get over it” is tossed around unempathetically. Even with major losses, like, somebody dies, and you sort of get a pass to be not okay for a while, like a month or two. But then, even people’s compassion starts to get replaced with encouragement to get over it, move on, and all kinds of positive things. Two months that people stop feeling sorry for you and they start to tell you to move on and let it go. 

For a lot of people, that is not a realistic expectation. The grieving process takes much, much longer. And that is for a clear and profound loss, right? More subtle, hidden losses don’t often get any validation from any quarter. Our friends, our family, our community, we might get, “Oh, yeah, sorry about your dog,” or whatever. But then that’s it. That makes it hard for us to acknowledge the loss and feel like we have the right to be sad about it or to grieve it. 

As I mentioned, there are lots of different kinds of grief, but I think that they all manifest in this sort of vague sense of pain or anxiety. A lot of times, I’ll have people come into therapy in the beginning and have really no idea that what they’re experiencing emotionally is this emotional pressure of grief needing to happen. They come in, and maybe they think they’re depressed or they’re anxious, and sometimes, they are. But that the origin of their pain is really in grief that hasn’t been given a voice. It needs to happen and that a big piece of therapy in these moments is just giving people tools and space, quite frankly, o have that experience. It’s a lot of what I do. 

So lots of different kinds of grief. The end of a relationship can precipitate a long grieving process. This might surprise you, but people who are working through their relationship with their parents or through their family of origin, they might need to go through this grieving experience where they’re making peace with the fact of, “Okay, I didn’t get the parents that I wanted or that I needed, and my parents aren’t going to change. So I need to grieve the loss of that hope, that hope for that relationship that I wished for.”  That can be another major source of loss and a need to grieve. If that’s the case with you, I made a podcast just on that subject. It’s called “Dealing with Difficult Parents,” and you can find it on my website. I’m going to make a little note to myself to do a podcast for just about healing from the loss of a relationship because I think that’s such an important common topic that a lot of people would probably benefit from that, too, maybe even you. 

Today, I’m just going to talk about grieving a loss in more general terms because you can apply this to everything. Today, you’re going to learn how to use the power of grief to let go and move on. There’s a process to grief. There is a sequence of steps. If you leave any of these steps out, you can get stuck in grief, sometimes for a long time. I think it was Carl Jung that said, “What we resist persists.” That’s true for a lot of things when it comes to emotional health, psychological wellness, but I think particularly with grief. When we avoid grief, it’s always in front of us.  You can’t get around it. The only way out is through. The more you postpone it, it just is always in front of you. No matter where you go, it’ll always be in front of you. Let’s just agree that it needs to be done, and I’ll teach you how to do it.

I know it’s hard to embrace this process. I know that it can be scary to think about confronting grief, and dealing with it, and understandably so. People, me too, are afraid of experiencing pain. Really, at the core, grief is in some ways—well, not in some ways. I mean, it is—it’s inviting pain into your life and saying, “Okay, I’m ready to feel this and be sad.” Going through the process of grieving means dancing with grief and just embracing it for a while. 

Something that I see and hear about commonly that prevents people from being able to do that work is that they get scared that if they do let themselves go there, and grieve, and feel sad, that they’re going to be trapped in pain forever. Like, where’s the other side? So because of that unknown, it’s just sort of walking into the darkness and not knowing what’s in there or on the other side that people hold themselves apart from it, and paradoxically, remain stuck in it and sometimes for much longer than they have to. 

Only way out is through, and here are the steps to go through. The first step is acknowledging the loss. I know this sounds so simple and ridiculously obvious, but this is a need that is often overlooked. It’s because, for some reason, people have a tendency to minimize their losses or the losses of other people. Just think about what happens in your head as soon as you say to yourself, “I had a miscarriage.”  There’s this immediately, “Well, it was really early.” Or you might think that if somebody else tells you about their own miscarriage. You say, “My dog died. Well, he had a long life. He was happy. He was sick at the end. It’s a bit better this way.” “I will never get the love that I need from my father. But he paid for college, right?” “We broke up. I broke up with my boyfriend. Well, it wasn’t that great of a relationship anyway.” 

There’s just this immediate jump to minimize the pain. Yes, all of the things are true. It was an early miscarriage. Your dog was old. Maybe it wasn’t a great relationship. But jumping to these ideas is shutting down the legitimacy of your grief. That isn’t helpful because all of these ideas are basically stealing your permission to just be sad that these things happened, and you have the right to be sad. You have the right to be sad. 

Acknowledging that you experienced a loss that was real and important to you is the first step in being able to heal. People are not going to do that for you. You need to be able to acknowledge and accept that it was a loss and that you have the right to be sad for yourself. So just name it. The quickest way to do this is to say, “What did I lose?” And just say it out loud. “We broke up.” “My dog died.” “I moved away from all my friends, and I am really sad.” Saying out loud makes it true. It makes it real, and you need to make it real. 

Then, the second step once you have acknowledged the truth is, stay with me, to have a funeral. I know. I get weird looks sometimes from people in therapy when I suggest the appropriate next step in dealing with a loss is to have a funeral. Particularly, when it’s around a more subtle kind of loss, they’ll say, “Oh, how am I gonna have a funeral for my relationship?” Trust me, it’s a funeral. All a funeral is is a ritual that creates a physical and an emotional container for your loss. It’s a ceremony that makes this loss real and final. Only when we cross the line of finality can true grieving begin. 

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a major personal loss. I, thankfully, have not had many yet, but like everyone else, it’s just a matter of time before I have more. My grandmother died a few years ago, and I think I was sort of in shock a little bit when she first passed away, and I was traveling home, and being with family, and letting it all sink in. But I really, really appreciated the ritual of her funeral, just going through that process, and being with a priest who knew what to do and knew what to say, and there were rites around it, to have that ceremony, to have the viewing, to have the experience and then laying her to rest. It was only at that moment that it made it real. It broke through the shock, I think. 

That’s when the grieving of the loss could begin was because of having that ritual. We get that when people die. We’re given that experience when people die. But with more subtle losses, you don’t get that experience unless you create it for yourself. So the way to do this, as hokey as it sounds, try it. Get a physical container, and then put the actual or symbolic physical remains of whatever it is. Your relationship, your dream, your former life, your pet, whatever, put it into the container. So these can be pictures, or mementos, or concert tickets, or the T-shirt that still smells like him. Whatever it is, put it in the box. 

Then, write a eulogy about what you appreciated about this thing that has died, what the relationship meant to you, or how much you adored your cat. What an important part of your life they were and write about how you feel about it being gone. Just like the words that you would say if you got up at a funeral and made a speech about the person that was gone. You get to do that about the baby you’ll never get to know, or your relationship, or this life that you can’t go back to anymore. Say the words out loud if you can, or at least write them down, and say them to yourself. 

Have your ceremony, and then, put the container away. You can bury it, you can set it on fire, you can donate it, you can put it in a corner of the basement, but put it away. Then when it’s put away, it’s over. Yes, doing this will crack open the door, and you will feel pain, and that’s not just okay. It’s good. It’s healthy. It’s necessary. It’s the next step in healing.

So have the ceremony and feel the pain because step number three is really just allowing yourself to be sad for a while. We don’t like this, Americans especially. We don’t like it.  We’ll take a pill. We wanna be okay. We want to eat something, make ourselves feel better. Be happy. “I’m fine,” you know? But feeling pain is not just necessary and important, it is the work of grieving. So, be brave. Feel this, and trust that through embracing sadness, non-judgmentally is the quickest way through it. 

If you’re like a lot of people, you might struggle with the idea that it’s just okay to be sad for a while. Again, it’s not just okay, it’s necessary. This is the work of grieving. Back in the day, when people experienced a major loss, they would enter a mourning period. It was a special time, supported by their communities, supported by their cultures, where they just got to be sad. People would literally dress in black, or they would wear a black armband. This would communicate to other people, “I am not okay, right now.” And other people would understand that not only are they not okay, they have a right to be not okay. We need to respect that. They would get a pass on social obligations. No one expected them to be happy or positive or anything. 

That traditional period of mourning was a year, and I vote that we bring that back. I think that is such a nice tradition and just that recognition that we’re not okay for a while after we’ve gone through a loss. But you don’t need my vote, or anybody else’s, to have your own mourning period. You get to help yourself to mourn. Wear black. Journal about how sad you are, and about how much this sucks, and go on long walks, and listen to sad music, and just miss the hell out of whatever it is that you’ve lost.

To enter into this, just throw yourself into this pain for a while. Eventually, you will bounce off the bottom, but you have to go into it in order to be able to bounce. That bounce is step four. That bounce off the bottom is the part where we make meaning of our loss. When sadness is acknowledged and honored and felt, it moves through us cleanly. On the other side of sadness,  that was well-cared-for sadness, cultivated sadness is often the opportunity to reflect on what happened in a really honest way and to work through what happened. Why did it happen? What does this mean? 

For many people, this meaning-making process can deepen their spirituality or push them into deeper contact with their values or things they feel grateful for, or why are we all here kinds of things, is what can come out of meaning-making. So it can be a really, really powerful soul-expanding time in your life. The only work that you need to do is just to make space for this and give yourself opportunities to think. Write it. I’m a writer; I like to write, but if you’re an external processor, talk to people in a safe emotional environment as long as those people are not going to start defining anything for you. Because you really just need to be in a relationship with yourself, and your own thoughts, and your own feelings so that people aren’t defining it for you or telling you what you should feel. 

Just give yourself time to be quiet. Be by yourself, and just be in a safe emotional environment where you can talk through things. Sooner or later, you’ll just start to hear a quiet voice inside of you that offers you peace. That’s the one to listen to. Listen to whatever that voice tells you about the meaning and what it means to you. That will be your truth. 

Once you’re in that space is also an opportunity for reconnection. You have done the work, a lot of the work of grieving. You’ve moved through sadness, you’ve made meaning, and now you’re ready to connect with whatever it was that you’ve lost on a spiritual level, on an emotional level. Many people who’ve experienced the loss of an important person can begin to feel like they have internalized the lost person. I know it sounds weird, but they have conversations with them in their head, or feel that their spirit is close to them, or watching over them is reconnecting with a lost loved one. I think it can be similar for more subtle losses, like the ones we’re talking about. 

It may look like a different kind of reclaiming though. Part of reclaiming might be developing gratitude for what was or appreciation for the growth that came from an experience, or even reconnection with a person that has really disappointed you. It’s the last kind of experience I think it’s particularly true when you needed to grieve the hope or the dream that a relationship could be different or that a parent could be different. 

Once you get to that space, you might be willing to actually have a new, a different kind of relationship with maybe the parent that you have instead of the parent that you wanted to have, that ideal parent. You needed to grieve that person before you could have a relationship with your actual father or whatever it is. For a relationship loss, might be moving back into contact or forgiveness with the person that you were with because it might not be emotionally safe for you to be with the person that you used to be with. That’s okay, too. 

Then, once you have done these pieces of acknowledging the sadness, having a funeral, allowing yourself to be sad, making meaning, and reclaiming, then you get to rebuild. You’re on the other side of it, and this is the time when you get to create a new chapter for your life. When you’ve grieved well, grieving itself kind of becomes a line in the sand that differentiates between the time before and the time after. 

The hidden gift of grieving well is that during the process, you get the opportunity to understand yourself more fully. Grieving puts you into contact with your feelings, your needs, your truth, your hopes and dreams, and your values. During grieving, they all get churned up, and hopefully, you have the opportunity to understand yourself better. Through working through this loss and then rebuilding, you get to use that new awareness and take those pieces to construct a new life that honors whatever that truth is. You get to design your new life on the other side and make sure that you build it in such a way that it honors your truth and that it makes you happy.

That’s the process. That’s the process of working through grief. I really hope that this helps you. I know that allowing myself to work through this process has really helped me personally. I know that it helps my clients when I walk with them through this process. And I have every confidence that it will help you, too. Give yourself a chance to grieve. Be gentle with yourself, and peace be with you.

[Outro song]


Episode Highlights

  • Defining Loss and Accepting Grief
    • Losses are inevitable. 
    • We also experience subtle kinds of losses. Grieving these losses allows you to move on.
    • Society does not offer the same kind of support for subtle losses.
    • Getting less validation for our loss makes it hard for us to acknowledge it and feel like we have the right to grieve it.
    • Most of the time, the origin of pain is in grief. At the core, grief is inviting pain and embracing it for a while.
  • Acknowledging the Loss
    • People tend to minimize their loss or the losses of others. Doing this shuts down the legitimacy of grief.
    • These ideas steal your right to be sad when you have the right to be so.
    • Acknowledging that you experienced a loss is the first step to healing.
    • Saying it out loud makes it real.
  • Having a Funeral
    • A funeral is a ritual that creates a physical and an emotional container for your loss. It’s a ceremony that makes this loss real and final. 
    • Only when we cross the line of finality can true grieving begin. 
    • Put the physical or symbolic things of whatever you’re grieving in a container. Then, write a eulogy on what you appreciated about it.
    • Put the container away after your ceremony. 
    • Once it’s over, you will feel pain. This is the next step in healing.
  • Allowing Yourself to Feel Sadness and Mourning
    • Allowing yourself to be sad for a while is necessary.
    • Feeling pain is grieving.
    • Embracing sadness is the quickest way through it.
    • Some communities and cultures have a mourning period where it’s accepted that people are not okay after a loss. You can have your own mourning period.
  • Bouncing Off the Bottom
    • Make meaning of your loss. Reflect and work through what happened honestly. 
    • Give yourself opportunities to think. Listen to what the voice inside tells you about meaning. 
    • Once you’ve done this, you’ll connect with what you lost.
  • Reclaiming Subtle Losses
    • Developing gratitude for what was, appreciate the growth that came from an experience, or reconnect with a person that has disappointed you.
  • Rebuilding
    • You get to rebuild after reclaiming your loss.
    • Grieving well helps you understand yourself more fully.
    • Through this, you build a life that honors your truth.

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12 Comments

  1. Knowing how to work through the process, to face fears and find happiness, is essential in truly moving forward. I’m following this process now and I know that my only job is to follow the clearly defined steps. I’m looking forward to the weightlessness and beauty that will shine through soon. Thank you for sharing this knowledge. It is a gift.

  2. Such a beautiful & empathetic podcast. It is refreshing to hear someone validate & respect the process of grief. Finding this has been such a gift to me as I’m going through the process at the moment and I need all the help that I can get. Thank you Dr Bobby.

  3. Trying to get through the break up of my 35 year marriage! Husband worked out of town 3 years wouldn’t come back now I know why… devastated. I supported his new job (I helped him get it) in Florida. Only to be stabbed in the heart… I dont know how to get those images out of my mind.

    1. CJ, so sorry. That is a long, long time to be with someone and of course it is going to take time to work through all the pain and feelings here. There is such a thing as “emotional trauma” and it sounds to me, if I read through the lines of your question, that you’re experiencing it. I sincerely hope that you connect with a good therapist or coach who specializes in breakup recovery, so that you have a place to process all of this, heal, and develop a life for yourself post-marriage. (Extra points if you can find one who is knowledgeable in mindfulness skills, as those can really help with the types of intrusive thoughts you’re describing). In the meantime, please be gentle with yourself. Lots of walks, baths, journaling, and crying. It will get better….
      xo, Lisa

  4. Knowing how to work through the process, to face fears and find happiness, is essential in truly moving forward. I’m following this process now and I know that my only job is to follow the clearly defined steps. I’m looking forward to the weightlessness and beauty that will shine through soon. Thank you for sharing this knowledge. It is a gift.

  5. I’m so glad to hear that these ideas were helpful to you. It sounds like you are on an amazing journey, and I hope you find peace as you move through the process of healing.

  6. Such a beautiful & empathetic podcast. It is refreshing to hear someone validate & respect the process of grief. Finding this has been such a gift to me as I’m going through the process at the moment and I need all the help that I can get. Thank you Dr Bobby.

  7. Trying to get through the break up of my 35 year marriage! Husband worked out of town 3 years wouldn’t come back now I know why… devastated. I supported his new job (I helped him get it) in Florida. Only to be stabbed in the heart… I dont know how to get those images out of my mind.

  8. CJ, so sorry. That is a long, long time to be with someone and of course it is going to take time to work through all the pain and feelings here. There is such a thing as “emotional trauma” and it sounds to me, if I read through the lines of your question, that you’re experiencing it. I sincerely hope that you connect with a good therapist or coach who specializes in breakup recovery, so that you have a place to process all of this, heal, and develop a life for yourself post-marriage. (Extra points if you can find one who is knowledgeable in mindfulness skills, as those can really help with the types of intrusive thoughts you’re describing). In the meantime, please be gentle with yourself. Lots of walks, baths, journaling, and crying. It will get better….
    xo, Lisa

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