It is said that the second most intense life stress is loss of love. The first is death. But I question this? Both are final. Both, in most cases, result in the physical removal of someone special from your life. Both result in the loss of a way of life we have become familiar with. Both have resulted in hanging strings of things that were never said. However with death you have the peace of knowing you were in your lost loved one's heart. You were not abandoned purposely, cast aside, or rejected. With death you can take off work and get sympathy. You are given gifts of comfort and understanding. You can go through closing rituals and you can feel contentment that they are in a better place. But with breakups, separation, or divorce, even though you have the assurance that they are still alive somewhere on this Earth, their love was intentionally withdrawn from you! They opted to leave you. We no longer have their presence, nor their care. They no longer want us. Either way, death or breakup, you had little say or control over the situation. I've often wondered if I had been able to deal with my loss easier if my ex had been taken away from me at God's will while he still loved me, instead of his intentional, direct withdrawal of his love for me on his own volition. That's not to say I wish him dead, oh my! That's just to say I think my own personal grief would have been less self-destructive and more accepted and socially supported. I have been through both the death of a loved one, and the intentional physical and emotional withdrawal of a loved one, and I would have to say grief over breakup, separation, or divorce can be equally as devastating–if not more–than grief over the death of your loved one.
In death you lose your loved one's physical presence in both your present time and your future. But in the loss through breakup we haven't just lost one's physical presence in our lives, but their love, also. We experience grief over the loss of their mental, emotional, and spiritual presence, too, along with our own sense of value and self-worth, our pride, our ego, our dreams, our hopes, our security, and our feelings of being loved. We feel rejected, not good enough, not lovable, unwanted, and cast aside. We feel taken for granted and unappreciated for all we have done. We have gone from being everything to being nothing in a moment flat! But what kind of people would we be if we didn't grieve? Doesn't our grief stem from our having been loving, devoted, caring, committed, trusting and involved? Would we really want to be the type of person that is so cold, callous, without emotion, and self-centered that we could easily just dismiss such a breakup and walk away unscathed?..."