1. Let yourself feel their leaving entirely. Listen for their footsteps as they walk out the door of your heart. Make sure you hear it close shut. Once it does, be sure to lock it. Please, do not peer through the peephole by rereading texts and listening to old voicemails. Do not look at pictures of the two of you together. Do not call them. Do not ask mutual friends how they’re doing.
2. Sink into the silence of their goneness. Let the reality that they aren’t coming back take you over the way a storm cloud makes the sun disappear. Let it consume you and drown you until you know the presence of their absence is real.
3. Cry; cry hard. Lay in bed. Check your phone to see if they changed their mind. Realize they didn’t and remember they won’t. Cry some more. Cry until your chest feels as though it may cave in from the weight of your grief.
4. Breathe in, breathe out. As many times as necessary, until you’ve caught your breath.
5. Get out of bed. Go to your bathroom and look in the mirror. Study your tear stained cheeks, your puffy eyes. Wonder how to God someone who once brought you so much joy is now bringing you so much pain.
6. Find no reason for your pain. Feel it all anyway.
7. Get angry. Remember all their little quirks and the nuances in their voice that once lit you up. Let these things make you mad, annoyed. But know the whole time you’re lying to yourself. Know you still love them, their furrowed brow, their bursting laughter when something wasn’t even that funny. Lie to yourself until your throat gets sore.
8. Fix yourself up. See some friends. Go to a bar and pretend to have fun. Drink some shitty beer, and make sure you document it on social media. I’m fine, the laughing picture says. You know better, though.
Delete the picture later.
9. Be disinterested in everything. Stop drawing, stop reading stories that interest you, stop writing. Stop seeing friends, stop getting up on time, stop pulling yourself together. Let everything fall to pieces and don’t even try to care that it’s all broken.
10. Let some time pass. Go through the motions. Fulfill social obligations, work duties. Return missed calls, make appointments you’ve been putting off. Start caring that you see yourself and your life in shambles. Start picking up those pieces and putting everything back together.
11. Wake up one morning feeling hopeful. Make some coffee. Read the news. Feel at peace. And then realize it’s because you forgot them, just for a second. Feel empty all over again.
Rinse and repeat this step until you get bored of your own misery and finally kick yourself in the ass to let them go for real.
12. Start to relearn yourself. Write down what you like to do, what fascinates you. Remember what it was that made you, well, you. Write letters you’ll never send them, and throw these pieces of your heart away. Listen to your favorite songs and maybe even sing along. See your friends again. Laugh sincerely with them. Realize how much love you still have in your life even though they’re gone.
13. Hear their favorite song, or pass a spot where the two of you used to hide away. Hear their name in passing. Remember them fully, but do not fall apart. Think of how you’re still here, still moving, still breathing, without them. Smile a little. Hurt a little, but not too much. Not like before.
14. Realize and allow yourself be changed in tiny ways. Little parts of you will always be with them, and little pieces of them will always be with you. It’s okay they made an impact on your life, even if they didn’t stay.
It’s okay that you loved so deeply.