July 13, 2021

Stop Calling it Grief or Trauma. We are heartbroken—Not Broken.

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s been some kind of pain.” ~ Bob Dylan


I gained some insight through a discussion with my mother about a massive amount of overwhelm in my life currently, and she said something that has stuck with me.

“Sweetheart, you’re heartbroken.”

It created a snowball of thought in my mind. Through some recent experiences, I’ve learned that we ruin so much with words. Words that can be so positively impactful can also make everything so complicated.

In the English language, we can call it grief, trauma, hurt, or one of so many mental illnesses. We can call it needing to do shadow work and inner child healing. 

We can do this, we can do that, but there’s something we learn over our lifetime: most everything has a “root cause,” and I believe many of us can trace that back to something so simple, yet so complex.


Broken heart syndrome, a classified diagnosis, is something we hear about in such a romanticized way. A wife of 95 passes away. Two days later, her husband passes. His heart couldn’t handle being away from her.

Broken heart syndrome.

We hear those stories, but how many of us can trace back the root cause of the struggles in our lives to the first time we experienced heartbreak?

The chest pains, the shortness of breath, the feeling of needing to rush to the hospital because we feel like it’s a heart attack. Dizziness. Running to the bathroom to throw up.

No, it’s just a panic attack. An anxiety attack.

Or, is it broken heart syndrome?

Are we a world of human beings who are getting treated for all of the sub-symptoms of having our hearts broken?

Have we complicated everything?

Are the questions we need to be asking ourselves completely different?

Should we be asking instead:

Why am I heartbroken?

What is the first heartbreak I remember?

What steps did I miss because I tried (or someone else tried) to call it a cognitive dysfunction?

What could I have done differently if I identified the root cause as “heartbreak” instead of calling it anxiety or stress?

How has my heartbreak turned into more, and how does it continue to show up in my life?

How is my heart broken outside of my individual life?

Once we answer these questions, there’s more of a direction, more of a grace given to ourselves, or at least, a redefinition that makes us feel less alone.

When we call it trauma, or grief, or anxiety, or a personality disorder, we are calling ourselves damaged. Yes, we can pick up the broken pieces and glue ourselves together with gold and keep going, but do we ever face the root cause?

What if we just picked up our hearts and started putting those pieces together, instead of overwhelming our psyches by calling it anything different?

How would the world change if mental health professionals sat and asked their clients, “What are some of your biggest heartbreaks?” as the opening statement?

What an icebreaker.

When you experience any disappointment, it’s heartbreaking. You don’t get the job. You don’t get the date. You get the divorce. You lost your pet. You lost the baby. You were abused. Your family’s estranged. You were betrayed, abandoned, rejected. You turn on the news when you found joy in your day to see that there was another shooting, another racial injustice. You reject the joy; it doesn’t seem fair to have it anymore.

We carry hurt, trauma, grief, stigmas—but what if we just called it what it is?


Complex, yet so simple.

We are heartbroken. Not broken.

It’s the one thing we all have in common.

If we started working on our hearts, and not the whole, we would see a difference in the whole. The whole of ourselves, how we show up for others, the whole of the world.

Find out how to heal your heart first, then the rest will follow.

We make it too complicated.

“The core of beauty is simplicity.” ~ Paulo Coelho



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