Have you ever been in a discussion with someone you were hoping to marry and it didn’t work out? It can be so painful; no matter at what stage in the process it happens and no matter what age you are? I’ve been there and done that too – the latest quite recently – so I know what it’s like.
Even if you haven’t actually married him, you still feel a loss, because you’ve made a great deal of emotional investment into the relationship, working out whether you’d be interested in being with him and maybe even visualizing your possible future together.
A break-up takes away that potential future, and the loss can be felt very keenly, can’t it? And it can be more complicated than a loss through bereavement – although the loss of a husband through death is undeniably more painful – because this man is still here.
For some sisters this can lead them to hold onto a hope that they may have another chance and for others it can be a constant reminder of painful memories.
So how can you move on as quickly as possible SuperMuslimah style, with as little fall-out as possible? I just want to share some of my top pieces of advice for an Emergency Break-up First-Aid Kit. This is by no means a comprehensive list and some situations will need their own more specific remedies, some even needing counseling or coaching, but these are a good place to start.
Turn to Allah with patience
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” (Qur’an 2:155-157)
This is one of the hardest pieces of advice to follow, especially in the early stages, but the one that if you try to adhere to will give you the greatest benefit. Close your eyes for a second and just imagine how wonderful it would be if your Nafs was at the stage where it was so at peace with Allah that it was able to accept His decrees of loss with patience.
May we all reach that stage! But if you’re not there just yet, and you didn’t react instantly with patience, don’t worry about that now; just make it your goal to work towards achieving this state. Remind yourself that Allah is the best of planners and that “…it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (Qur’an 2: 216)
It may be difficult to imagine now that the life you’d been dreaming of with him wouldn’t have turned out as you imagined it, but Allah is the Al-`Alim, the All-Knowing and He wants the best for you. And maybe He wanted you just to learn some lessons from this experience.
Accepting the answer of your Istikhara
If you’d done Istikhara, the supplication for guidance, you would have been asking Allah: “…if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it”. So if by ending the relationship Allah has answered you and taken the it away from you, it’s now your turn to be grateful to Allah and to take yourself away from it, and to stop thinking of him. I know that’s easier said than done, so how can you do that?
Explain to the people who need to know, and then be silent
Once it is confirmed that you will no longer be discussing marriage with this man. Either you or your familyshould tell the people who need to know. Keep the information factual and minimal; most people don’t need to know the details, especially if there was any type of wrongdoing.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “He who covers a Muslim (meaning his mistakes and shortcomings), Allah will cover him in the Dunya (Life) and the Akhirah (Hereafter)” (Narrated by Muslim) And don’t be tempted to say harsh things about him, as you don’t want their bad deeds to be added to your scale!
The Prophet also said: “Whoever has wronged his brother with regard to his honor or anything else, let him seek his forgiveness today, before there will be no dinar and no dirham, and if he has any good deeds to his credit they will be taken from him in a manner commensurate with the wrong he did, and if he has no good deeds, then some of his counterpart’s bad deeds will be taken and added to his burden.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)
Once the people who need to know do know, there is no need to talk to anyone about it or to gossip about it anymore, it’s over. Now is the time for healing yourself and getting on with your life.
Coping with Your emotions
The aftermath of a break-up has often been likened to the grieving process. It has been said that you will naturally go through a series of emotions, such as shock, denial, depression, guilt, anxiety and aggression, all of which vary in intensity and length for different people, until you have learned to move on and live your life fully again. But recent research has shown that we don’t all go through these stages.
In fact there are four possible reactions to loss varying from resilience, in which people remain relatively stable, healthy levels of functioning; recovery, when normal functioning temporarily gives way to symptoms of depression; chronic dysfunction; and delayed reaction. Any of these reactions are common human reactions to loss.
So for some people it’s normal not to cry or have a reaction to the loss of a relationship, while others may end up in a severely depressed state following bereavement. Even the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said “The eye tears and the heart grieves”.
Studies have also shown that crying and talking about a loss is not the only healthy way to respond and in fact, if this is forced or excessive, it can be harmful. So once again, the Islamic position of moderation is supported by science. So how do you manage to cope with your emotions?
If you have anything that reminds you of him, get rid of it or at least hide it, because each time you see it, you’ll be reminded of the time when you had hope and it will be more difficult to control your sadness at the loss. If you have him on any type of a contact list, remove him.
The relationship has ended, you have no reason to contact him again, or he you. Allah permitted you to be in contact with a non-Mahram man and discuss personal matters, because you were considering the possibility of marriage. Once that intention is no longer mutual, you have no reason to talk to him again in that way.
Check Your Thoughts
Many sisters act as if their emotions are independent of them and out of their control, so they don’t look for ways to control them. Yes, sisters generally do have softer natures than brothers and they are more emotional, but sometimes that is used as excuse for them not to try to control their emotions and to give into them.
Not only do some sisters let the emotion control them, but they also stoke the fire of the emotion, by consciously bringing up thoughts and memories of the one they have lost, dwelling on the memories and even consciously searching for a forgotten bit of memory to retain their full picture.
No wonder they have difficulty letting go and moving on; they are deliberately holding onto the memories, re-cycling them and re-distressing themselves. If that rings a bell with you, what can you do instead? You need to actively take steps to break these cycles.
If you catch yourself thinking about him, stop the thought, don’t let it develop. Distract yourself by thinking of something else. Challenge the reality of your thoughts in the way a wise auntie would. Your thoughts can be in your control! Once you’ve got through the first couple of days and realized that it really is over, stop yourself from thinking about him. And don’t let Satan’s waswasa tempt you back to it.
Express Your Feelings and Then Dispose of Them
If you find it difficult to manage your thoughts, because you still feel that you have some unresolved issues, take out a piece of paper and write down all your thoughts and feelings down. And then dispose of them. Yes, burn them, bury them, tear them up, and throw them in the trash bin! Or, if you prefer, find a quiet place on your own and pretend that he is sitting there in front of you and tell him exactly what you’re feeling and thinking. Get it all out! And when you’ve finished walk away from that spot and never return. You are in control.
Do the Supplication of Umm Salamah
Islam gives a maximum mourning period of only 3 days for anyone who is not a husband, and that is following bereavement. So when you’re approaching this 3-day limit it’s time to take control of yourself.
If you’re still feeling weepy, down or flattened emotionally due about your loss, it’s time to make all the efforts you can to shake yourself out of that stage and start moving on. You need to start looking forward to the life that Allah has planned for you; the one that is going to be better for you than the one you had imagined with him.
One of the best ways to do this is to follow the example of Umm Salamah, who after losing her beloved husband Abu Salamah in the Battle of Uhud, did this supplicationthat was taught to her by Prophet Muhammad and she ended up marrying the Prophet!
Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return. O Allah, reward me for my calamity and compensate me with something better than it.
Then start planning your future. Take your time with this, you don’t have to do it in a hurry, but you do need to start thinking of how you can best live the precious life that Allah has granted to you, in the way that will please Him as the SuperMuslimah that you are!
First published: February 2012