Dear Dogtor Zach: Quarantine Breakup
Dear Dogtor Zach & Co.,
I just found out that my friend and their significant other just broke up. They are heartbroken and quarantined at home with a family that’s not very supportive. How can I help when I’m under stay at home orders myself?
Fretful Friend (FF)
First, & Co. wants you to know that your friend is lucky to have you! The pain of a break up sucks under normal circumstances. When you add a pandemic and unsupportive family to the mix, it’s even worse. But, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel and great friends like you help us get there.
Everyone’s heartbreak is unique to their own experiences. However, we all go through a range of emotions to include sadness, anger, confusion, regret, and acceptance. It’s an up and down battle, not an ordered progression. Your friend needs to know that they are not going crazy when they are feeling their emotions spiral. All these emotions and more are part of grief.
One of the best things you can do for your friend is to listen and empathize. You can do this by mirroring what they say. “You are so sad. I would be too.” By providing genuine empathy you will help your friend feel less alone. They will feel understood since there’s no judgment or advice; just support.
Check on your friend frequently. “Hey! I just wanted to check-in. I’m here for you and care about you.” They may not want to talk about it or they may need to talk about it a lot. When they don’t want to talk about it, you can offer creative social distancing alternatives like an online game, watching a movie or series over FaceTime, taking a virtual vacation, or some online window shopping.
Consider starting some new chat groups with your friend as long as they are ready. Often, our significant other is included in our circle of friends. Some separation from an ex, although hard at first, will help the heart heal quicker. Being able to step away from the ex on social media without losing other connections helps minimize feelings of loneliness.
Help your friend see their positive attributes. When we are grieving, our minds can be foggy. Point out their strengths and what makes them special. Encourage them to try new things to help them look toward the future as they begin to develop a new normal. There are a ton of free or reduced online classes to help people pursue hobbies and interests.
Dogtor Zach says:
I don’t understand why people break up. I love everyone! If you have a dog, they love you too! A cat, I’m not so sure. They are oddly independent. Enough about a cat, nature makes me feel better. I even cry to go outside….EVERYDAY! Go for a walk, stick out your chest, do a little prance, sniff the air, and listen to all the sounds. It’s okay to feel all the feels because there’s nothing like being in the moment.
Note: Dear Dogtor Zach & Co. has been developed for fun, inspiration, and informational support. It is not a substitution for therapy, diagnosis, or crises. If you are experiencing an emergency please go to the nearest emergency room. By submitting a letter or question, you are consenting to allow Gettysburg College Counseling Services to edit for length and/or clarity and use it in part or full. If we use your letter or question, we will NOT attach your name and may further edit content as we deem necessary to protect your privacy.
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