The difference between grief and mourning.
Grief and mourning are often used interchangeably. They are used to describe the same thing but they are actually very different from each other.
Grief comes from love. It is internal. It is deep within you. Grief refers to the way you feel inside. Your thoughts, your feelings. That initial shock and pain of losing someone/something we love. It is that feeling of being “torn apart.” It is a private struggle.
Mourning is step two. It is an external response. It is usually a shared response with other loved ones. It is social, like a funeral or memorial service. Mourning takes that internal emotional response and externalizes it. It is an action— like planting a tree, holding a service, sharing memories with family or friends.
External mourning is important when moving forward through loss. It allows us to get our feelings out, to release them and connect with them differently. Without mourning, our grief can turn into something that is carried with us in private causing continuous pain. That is why we tend to choose something to represent and memorialize the person/pet we have loss. We want to let out some of that emotion and feel ok again.
Moving forward, and accepting a loss does not end the pain forever. It will still come and go with time and often change the way it shows its face. But it is important that we recognize the difference and understand the benefits of mourning as a community, leaning on each other, offering support. You can’t hold it all inside forever.
Chances are you have either been in a situation, or know of a friend, who has had sex in order to “get over the pain” of a breakup. This is called rebound sex. It is meant to be casual, no strings attached, but that can be hard when you are talking about such a personal thing as sex. While it might seem like a quick, fun fix, it is not the healthiest route.
Don’t get me wrong, sex is great. It increases feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin. It can give you a nice high. It is a lot like taking morphine for a sprained ankle. It is a temporary, addictive, avoidant fix. It is not something that myself, or any other therapist would recommend to “heal.” If anything it will cause more stress and frustration and it will definitely not “fix” the situation.
Distracting from true feelings
I often hear from my clients, “it is a nice distraction,” “it will help me forget,” “it will help me to move on.” But in reality, it is just another way of distracting yourself from your true feelings. In the end, those true feelings always come back up to bite you. The best way to handle them is to face them. Talk to a friend, a family member, a mental health professional. Work through them and when you are ready to begin a meaningful relationship with another person then put sex back on the table.
As a coping mechanism sex can be messy. It can leave you, or the other person, feeling bad about who you/they are. It can cause you, or them, to feel dirty or used. Those feelings just compound the pain you are already feeling from your break up. My best advice is to seek out support from trusted friends and family to help you through this tough time. Facing your feelings rather than trying to pretend they don’t exist will help you to truly heal. Come to terms with your new reality before delving into another deep, personal endeavor.