Normally when grief is discussed it is in the context of death or other losses such as but not limited to the loss of a job, a car accident, losing our youth, loss of a limb, abortion, a miscarriage, the loss of a house or possessions by a fire, or financial setbacks.
Rarely does one hear of grief in connection with affairs. When an affair ends many times there is traumatic grief that has to be dealt with by both sides especially in situations when one or both of the affair partners were in love with the other.
Of course, even in platonic affairs there will be some grief issues especially if the situation has been long lived. However, in the long term affairs that really have the love component, the grief will be more pronounced. For example, when a couple has been in a long term affair and it ends, it is like someone has died. This grief will feel just as strong as a death to one or both of the affair partners.
A lot of these affair partners will both need therapy to help deal with the loss. And many times the wives or husbands of the affair partners need help sorting things out also.
When the affair ends, many times it is because the affair been brought out in the open abruptly. These people are then unable able to see each other anymore and they might go into a deep depression. Depression is obviously a part of grief. Major depression is seen many times when this happens. This is when sleeping, eating, taking care of personal hygiene, loss of interest in normal activities, are all affected to the degree that the person can not live a normal life. Even suicidal ideations and or attempts are made sometimes.
The stronger affair partner many times though quite upset at the breakup is able to put things in perspective and deal with it better than the weaker one. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have occasions when they don’t think about their former lover or perhaps desire to be with them again, it just means for the most part they have made a decision to end the affair and they have completed things in their mind.
So the grief process in the affair breakup many times is going to see the usual shock, disbelief, bargaining, and acceptance stages that most people go through when dealing with the death of a love one. Also, there will be times when one or both of the affair partners are unable or willing to reach a point in their lives where they can acceptance emotionally that the affair must end. Many times they will suffer for years and even a lifetime of not being able to put the affair behind them. In the Bridges of Madison County, Francesca is unable to put it behind her and it appears Robert Kincaid suffers until the end also.
If the affair partners have sat down and talked out the reasons why this affair has to stop and then they break up, these are much healthier. But too many times they are stopped cold turkey because of circumstances and these are what could be called unresolved breakups. The real in love affairs are likened to being addicted to some strong drug. One just struggles many times for years before they are able to let go and some will never reach that point. These are like losing someone through sudden death such as a car accident or some unexpected death.
The grief for these no closure breakups will be much longer and harder to deal with especially if the affair has been going on for several years. A person might go back to his or her wife and still pine for the affair partner and this could even last for several years or longer if he or she does not get therapy. If they don’t get help they may never get over it.
Disenfranchised grief is seen in many affairs because the grief is unable to be publicly recognized because the affair partners are made to feel ashamed and they then don’t feel comfortable talking about it so it must be kept a secret.
The purpose of this article is to attempt briefly explore the grief component of the affair. My hope is that it has at least opened this topic up for some discussion especially to those that have been affected directly or indirectly by affairs.