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Going through a breakup triggers an unbearable pain, that from my experience and the experience of many others, is quite similar to losing someone from death. When you break up with someone, you go through a process of grieving, and when that process is over, you walk away completely changed.

Comparing loss is a difficult endeavor because loss is painful. No one sets out in life to ever lose anything or anyone. However, no matter how much we try to avoid this, it is inevitable.

While I most definitely will stand by the similarities between losing a loved one through death, and losing someone you love through a breakup, there are obvious differences. However, one of these differences is the most crucial.

First, to get the most obvious difference out of the way, the person from the breakup is still alive. You could call them, hold them, or talk to them, if you wanted to, or if the breakup could be undone.

To me, the most crucial difference is in the fact that a breakup is a choice. Even when that choice was made under dire circumstances, like abuse, addiction, toxic differences, fundamental differences in values, or infidelity, there is a choice to be made.

My intention here is not to take away from how much death impacts us. So, please don’t take me the wrong way. Breakups are something else entirely.

My point is that the difference between these types of losses is that when you choose to break up with someone and walk away, you endure a very similar level of pain, all the while knowing if you want to, you could go back. Despite all the pain, the damage, or even the imminent threats towards your overall well-being, you could so choose to go back.

You enter into a cycle of mourning, in which you are mourning the idea you once held about where things could go while understanding that the past you so desperately are clinging to, in a sense, wasn’t real.

You believed this person was forever, and then your dreams, thoughts, aspirations, and beliefs were shattered. To stay would only devastate you more. Yet there’s this burning feeling deep within trying to push you to backtrack and “end all the pain.”

It’s a difficult task, a courageous step, to walk away from a toxic relationship and never go back.

According to relationship expert, and clinical psychologist Dr. Tricia Wolanin, “The process of dealing with a breakup is comparable to grief,”  continuing she explains, “It’s the death of a relationship, hopes, and dreams for the future. The person we are losing was [a big part of] our world and therefore has taken up so much of our mental and heart space.”

And obviously, I couldn’t agree more. She and other experts assert that it’s important to fully grieve the loss. Rather than jumping into another relationship, or rebound situation, we must give ourselves time to heal.

To gauge that, Kisha Walwyn-Duquesnay, LPC-S says “There are some schools of thought out there that say you should be single twice as long as you were in a relationship. Or at least the same amount of time,” additionally, she says, “But there is no magic number. You should take as much time as you need to heal, and that’s different for everyone.”

Of course, if you were mourning a 20-year failed marriage, that figure doesn’t compute, so above all, I believe common sense is crucial. During this process, we will be driven by two sides of ourselves, our lower chakras and our higher chakras. Our lower chakras come from our impulses, which typically don’t steer us in the right direction.

However, our higher chakras (our connection to our true intuition and our higher selves) will most often say, “No, not yet,” even when our tears, our anger, and even our lust for something new is begging us to find anything to fill that void.

The experts weighed in with NBC Today, and most of them suggested taking some time alone. It’s okay to isolate yourself for a short period. Process your emotions, and then find a support system of friends, family, coworkers, etc. Vent out your frustrations. Write out a letter for closure and burn it. And get into some self-care practices.

Work on tuning into that side of yourself that pushed you towards the wrong one and heal it, so you can move forward to someone more aligned with who you truly are and what you need.