Europe for the Heartbroken: 7 Perfect Places for Healing from a Broken Heart (2/7)

(This may or may not be based on personal experience.)

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Amsterdam

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Sometimes the best way to deal with depressing life events is to wallow in it until you’re just sick of feeling sad. And since misery loves company, why don’t you go to the Van Gogh Museum? Because whose life could be more depressing than this guy’s?

Self-Portrait as a Painter, 1887-1888 | Courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum
Vincent Van Gogh, Self-Portrait as a Painter, 1887-1888 | Courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum

I mean, he cut off his ear. All because his relationship (albeit a non-romantic one) with Paul Gauguin didn’t work out. Go on, sing with me:
“I would do anything for love, but I won’t do THAT.” (Good for you, Meatloaf.)

And good for you too. If you’re not crazy with grief enough to cut off your own ear, that means it isn’t quite as bad as it could very well have been.

Now please don’t get me wrong: trivializing mental illness is the last thing I want to do. Nor is any “normal” person’s grief a joking matter. Both are burdens that are often too much to bear, and there isn’t a one-time cure for either. Sometimes you’re okay and sometimes you’re not. Sometimes one little thing can trigger a fresh wave of mourning. Sometimes you go through a whole day without thinking about it, and sometimes you can do nothing the whole day because the grief is too paralyzing.

For some people it’s literally unbearable and they feel they have no other way out than to kill themselves. Van Gogh shot himself. According to his brother, his last words were: “The sadness will last forever.”

But the good thing for most of us is that eventually our ups will outnumber our downs. Eventually the bouts of grief will become fewer and far between, until the day comes when you realize: you’re actually happy. A day will come when you’ll feel able to draw a line in the sand and say: “That’s the past, there’s nothing I can do about it anymore, but I’ll be damned if I let it destroy my future too.” And you’ll flip your hair and move on.
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And then you can go pick tulips or something.
And then you can go pick tulips or something.

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(Hair flips help.)

But, yes, I know. I remember how it feels to have not gotten to that day yet. When the wounds are still fresh, and people tell you “everything will be okay someday,” sometimes it doesn’t really help. It helps that they care, definitely; what doesn’t seem to help is what they’re saying. Because there’s a part of you that already knows everything will be okay someday. You know someday everything will make sense, and you’ll be thankful for what happened, et cetera, et cetera, BUT IT ISN’T OKAY NOW.

If that’s how you’re feeling now, maybe you can think about this:

Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield under Thunderclouds, 1890 | Courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum
Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield under Thunderclouds, 1890 | Courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum

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One day at a time. One day at a time. You’ll get there, and you’ll be fine. In the meantime, proceed to…

 

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Munich

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