Emotional Rehabilitation: Recovery from Loss

Stage 1: Acute Injury
This period occurs when you made a decision to end a relationship or it was made for you. How you say goodbye depends upon your personal preference, maturity, intellectual and emotional strength.

Where one lives in relationship to the person you lost plays a factor in perception, attitude and actions.

Ending a relationship in person provides a greater sense of self-respect, acknowledgment and control.

Pain has multiple effects on people. Everyday actions may be altered, such as thinking and concentration, sleeping and eating. Emotions continue to change and can take on the following: numbness, intense pain, sorrow, grief, regret, disappointment, and anger.

The ability to tolerate the variety and ups and down of pain varies per person. This intense period of time can last from 24 hours and up to a few weeks or months; depending upon the extent of the relationship and meaning associated with the person.

Others may have thoughts to end the suffering by getting back together with the person because the pain is seen as intolerable, and if a person’s internal resources are poor, think of suicide.

Stage 2: Active Grieving

The process of rehabilitation occurs when one is cognizant that he is purposefully working through each wave of grief.  He recognizes that the intensity is not as intense, the crying bouts not as frequent and the black cloud is lifting. The emotional waves affect the muscles and one has to re-learn how to stabilize the ups and downs.

Memories attach themselves to one’s emotional self. A different emotional work-out schedule is to be planned–rehabilitation. Re-strengthening your emotional muscles takes effort and determination and time. Reminding oneself that there are waves and it is normal to feel good and bad is vital to assist in coping.

However during this phase it’s important to recall the issues which led to this point. It is important to note that this stage is not time specific. It is necessary to focus one’s personal needs to move forward by learning or continuing to nurture the self; this is not selfish.

Emotional Rehabilitation Methods:

A. Journal, with a specific identified task, for instance: Why the relationship ended, what are the changes I see in myself, today, yesterday, last week, etc? Writing a letter to the person (but not sending it) is therapeutic and may even hasten the process.

B. Talk with close trusted friends, family and if needed, a therapist.

C. Develop or return to an exercise program.

D. Work or return to work.

E. Return to or start a hobby, for instance, paint.

F. Connect with others spiritually, physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially.

Stage 3: Emotional Rehabilitation Maintenance:
Emotional stability occurs when one notices that his thoughts are clear, positive, feel relief and contentment. Laughter, enjoyment, and fun return as a result of removing the weight or burden from the heart, thoughts and body.

People will feel they are themselves once again. At this point in emotional rehabilitation, there might be brief periods of time that regression occurs. We learn from our experiences and our self-awareness grows as we become more aware of one’s needs, strengths and weaknesses.

  • Identify positive self-affirmations and practice writing and saying them to one’s self.
  • Meditate or do yoga.
  • Identify stress reducing and relaxation activities.
  • Find opportunities for emotional, spiritual, vocational and physical growth and take steps toward doing these activities.

Emotionally you are not yet ready to let go and move forward until you have completed the rehabilitation process. The wave in adjusting to the loss will diminish as your muscles are used effectively. The end of a relationship, regardless of the type and length of time, has as its goal to disentangle and uncouple from the painful loss toward connection and stabilization.

Recognizing that you are moving forward is freeing and powerful. Once your emotional muscles are strengthened, you will feel more like your old self and think, “I’m back to myself.” Emotional rehabilitation is complete when the heart muscles are calm and at peace.

Sad woman photo available from Shutterstock

Emotional Rehabilitation: Recovery from Loss

Jane Rosenblum, LCSW, CCM

Jane Rosenblum, LCSW, CCM is a licensed therapist currently working as a certified case manager. She has extensive experience working with children and geriatric individuals and her 25-year plus career spans settings including medical, psychiatric, substance abuse, home care and schools. Rosenblum is compiling a platform of articles and newsletters that will be found at her site .


APA Reference
Rosenblum, J. (2016). Emotional Rehabilitation: Recovery from Loss. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 10, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 28 Jan 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Jan 2016
Published on All rights reserved.