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Do you ever think about what your days would be like if every person you have been friends with at one point, remained in your life? What if from the moment you met, you had to maintain a relationship with each individual? Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, phone calls, lunches, emails; how many hours would you have to spend just to maintain some sort of relationship with your mass of friends? Would there be enough hours in the day? In a week? Or would a month be required to keep in touch with all of them? Not likely. So when people move in and out of our lives, why is it often painful and difficult?

I don’t know about you, but when people leave, I miss them. Some more than others, and even though I realize these relationships have run their course, occasionally I still long to touch base with them.

Why? Sometimes I think it’s to revisit a moment in time. Other times it’s because the person knew me when no one else did. There are those I’ve walked a path with and shared a life changing experience. Or friendships where our energies matched so perfectly for a period and that common ground no longer exists.

The fact is, relationships end for all kinds of reasons. Someone might move away, get married, have children, maybe even go through a life changing event that shifts their perspective. Or it could be as simple as one person is comfortable where they sit, while another desires to get up and move ahead.

Some relationships fade over time. Others end abruptly for some unknown reason. The circumstances can be as clear as a mountain stream or as complicated and confusing as a murky mud puddle. One common thread is, though, that when relationships end we tend to feel pain. Hurts that manifest as anger and linger in our hearts.

No matter how awful, ugly, dysfunctional, enduring, happy, connected, some relationships may have been, I find aspects of these experiences creeping into my thoughts; typically reminding me of both the good and bad about this person. The grown up version of me fully aware that each interlude had a purpose and thrived for a reason.

Which leads me to wonder if the pain we experience is related to how we measure success during our time on planet Earth. Do we believe if we maintain many close relationships, both family and friends, then we must be a good, productive, contributing human. Or is it possible that we hold on to relationships so part of us, at that time in space, still lives on. Or is it the stability and comfort in knowing you have a group that has your back no matter what?

All of the above seem like reasonable explanations. But how many people do you need in your  life to have that sense of security? All of them? Or just some?

Sort of a mute question in my opinion, since the synergy between people in relationships seems to have a will of its own. Even though you might not be able to control when relationships start and finish, you do have choices about how to handle yourself when they’re done.

You can be devastated. Mourn. Lash out. Get angry. Move on. Or, you can come from the mindset that everything, including relationships, progress as they are designed. When a relationship ends, even the one you think you can’t live without, you choose to shift into the understanding that the evolution you’re experiencing is nature’s course. Remember the good things about your time with this person. The aspects that drew you together in the first place. The common interest, a tragedy, an activity, a sport, a third party–the real reason you connected that provided the opportunity to get exactly what you needed in that moment.

Regardless of the how and the why it ended, allow yourself to release that person from your heart with kindness, love, and with a genuine well wish for wherever their journey takes them next. Believing, with confidence, that the space and time that is left in this person’s wake, has actually made room for another to come in. One who is a perfect match for you where you are right now.

Resist the inclination to feel abandoned or left behind. Train your mind to avoid scenarios to justify why you are so much better off without this person. You are, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened. Don’t act out of hurt. Or gather a group together to rally against them. Instead, think back over the course of the relationship and honor all the gifts you gave and were given.

This way you won’t have to close off a part of your heart to hold the pain. Which over time will undoubtedly grow into a splinter of anger and resentment, guaranteed to ache when a similar set of circumstances touches it.

If you prescribe to the philosophy that what you give is what you get back, then doesn’t it make sense that if you send off a person departing your life with love and compassion, won’t those very attributes come back to you in the next relationship? In my experience they will, twofold.

EL Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Chasers/Risk

Working to accept life as it unfolds.

Balancing the emotional with the rational.

aka The Glamorous Wife