My wedding was only a month away when it was called off. An abrupt ending to a six-year relationship.
Not only was our relationship over but so was the one I shared with his family members. As tears fell down my cheeks, I checked in with myself and knew I needed to move forward but first, I wanted to say goodbye.
Continuing a relationship with your ex’s family members can make it difficult for everyone to move on. Keeping the connection alive after a break up can cause your ex’s family to pine for you to get back with your ex or may create difficulty for them when giving your ex’s new partner a real chance.
As a therapist, a common question I get asked by clients as they move on from a break up is how to get closure with their ex’s family. If you’re in heartbreak, I recommend writing a closure letter because it allows you to communicate what’s on your mind while giving you the space you need as you’re healing from the breakup.
Here are five points you can include in your closure letter to your ex’s family:
1. What you’ll miss about them. Maybe you’ll miss a laugh, a tradition, or a way that you used to spend quality time together.
2. What you appreciated about them. How did their presence enhance your relationship with your ex? Maybe they helped you mediate your relationship with your ex when things got hard and you appreciate their support.
3. Optional: Apologize. This is your chance to take accountability and show care. If the break up was your decision, maybe you can apologize for any pain or stress the break up caused your ex’s family.
4. What you need. I often remind my clients of this point when they forget to set limits with their ex’s family. For many people, this is the hardest part to write in their letter. It’s important to communicate if you need space or if you prefer to be the one to initiate any future interactions.
5. What you wish for them in the future. Communicate your hopes for them. Maybe you want to let them know that you hope they will heal from the breakup. This may sound odd, but sometimes your ex’s family takes the break up harder than your ex.
The truth is, grief is not linear. We may feel fine one day and get hit with sadness the next. If you had a connection with your ex’s family, it’s normal to feel loss and grief when the relationship ends.
Getting closure can help create feelings of peace and completion allowing us to free up energy for new beginnings. Breakups are hard enough but with the right words, it can be easier.