The first step to heal a broken heart is talking about what happened, accepting the truth, and acknowledging you are grieving. Share your grief with someone safe—a person or group who can listen without judging or giving advice.

Notice how you rely on your thoughts for dealing with grief, and the “helpful” and sometimes hurtful advice people tell you: don’t feel bad, replace the loss, keep busy, just give it time. All these mentally based responses to an emotional situation may help you get through the day, but they also may suppress the sadness and bury the pain and sorrow deeper in your heart.

What rituals or activities have you used in the past to help you get through the tough times and relieve the pain after a major loss? Activities like exercise, working more hours, meditating, praying, drinking wine, eating comfort food, and sleeping all might help us move along, but they do not heal a broken heart. At some point we wake up and ask things like, “Why am I so lacking in energy?” “Why am I so unhappy?” “It’s been so many months, years—what’s wrong with me that I’m not over it yet?”

Losses have to do with a relationship—with a person, place, or thing. The more complex that relationship, the more complicated the healing process can be. Support and structure are needed to work through all the conflicted feelings and complex situations.

The emotions in grieving include everything from anger, numbness, overwhelm, anxiety, relief, regrets, and guilt, to name just a few. When we’re not afraid of getting stuck in any of these feelings, we can allow ourselves to sit and feel, and let the emotion move. Remember, emotions are energy in motion, and they can move when you don’t suppress them.

With any devastating loss, time will change how you feel about it and deal with it. But to heal a broken heart, these emotions need to be heard and understood. We heal by getting to the incomplete emotional conversations that play over and over in our head and heart.

With healing you can find new meaning, sometimes not in the loss itself but in its aftermath. A little silver lining here or there, light in the midst of darkness.