A broken heart is one of the worst experiences a person is going to have in life. It is like having someone you love die. In fact it is a death of sort - the death of a relationship. For that reason, if none other, the depth of a person's feelings cannot be minimized, regardless of the person's age or the length of a relationship. If they are blessed with a long life, chances are there will be many broken hearts in their lifetime. How we teach them to handle these painful disappointments is going to have a major impact on what they become in life. Even though I have a Masters Degree in Psychology, I am not a Psychologist nor am I a Counselor. But I have loved and lost and I have lived over half a century so I hope my research, experiences and intuition can help someone mend their teen' s broken heart.
Give Them Space.
Many young people, especially high achievers, have a hard time with failure overall, so a failed relationship is going to be just as hard to deal with. I can remember when I thought I was going to die because I got a "B" when I was an "A" student. You can't begin to imagine how I felt when my first heart break came. Strangely enough, it was similar to not achieving my academic goal. The main thing I wanted after my breakup was to be left alone to feel what I was feeling. I just needed to be alone in my room and try to figure out what happened. It's a phase of breakups so let them go through it.
Let Them Cry
Nobody likes to see their child or loved one in pain, so we don't want them crying, but crying is a form of release. They need to let out the pain and anguish. Keeping those feelings bottled up could turn the person into a very angry person and that anger will only bring more heartbreak in future relationships. Remember that the pain is real and they need to feel that hurt and let the pain and anger out. For most of us we do that by crying.
Just Be There.
I think the best way to help our young people is to just be there for them. I would personally hold back on giving advice or bad-mouthing the person they just broke-up with even if they are calling him or her names. I find that listening to them and letting them express their feelings usually end up with them talking more and getting all of the bad stuff out of their system. Also, I don't recommend giving unsolicited advice such as "You'll find somebody else". At this point, they don't want anybody else.
Don't brush off what they are feeling by telling them "You're young. You'll meet the right person someday". Don't tell them to "get over it" and move on. That's easier said than done anyway, even for adults. Refrain from saying things that will make them feel like you don't think what they are going through is significant or important. Try listening. When they want you to chime in, you'll know because they'll ask you a question.
Encourage Them to Get Out.
If they have been stuck in the bedroom or the house for a couple of days, make a grocery list and ask them to shop for you (if they're at driving age of course) or to walk the dog. This will get them out of the house and back among the "living", so to speak.
Do Something Fun!
Take them to the mall and shop-till-you-drop, or Brusters for ice cream - the point is you know their likes and dislikes so use that to get them out of the house and stirring again. If it is a girl, take her to the mall for a free make over, a spa for a pedicure or manicure, or to Glamour Shots for a make over and picture session. The good thing about Glamour Shots is the sessions are fun, usually cost less than $20.00 and you get a beautiful air brushed picture in the process.
Help Them Re-Focus
Re-focusing their attention does not mean setting them up with a date. After a couple of days, try to get them to focus their attention on something else like a project. If they enjoy sports, take them to an event. Ask for help with a charity you are volunteering with or start a project you had on hold and ask for their help. The objective is to get them focused on something other than their broken heart.
Be patient with your teen. Remember what it was like when you had your heart broken (it's not that far back!)and treat them the way you wanted to be treated. I remember when I was going through a breakup, an elderly lady I had befriended started telling me about her breakup with the man she thought was the handsomest, funniest and most debonair man since Carey Grant. About a year after the breakup she saw him and he didn't look so good in her eyes. He had put on a lot of weight and looking much older than she remembered. As the years went on and she saw him, she thanked her lucky stars they were not together. Today, I do the same. I look back and even though I am friends with all my ex-boyfriends- I wonder what I ever saw in them from a romantic standpoint. Time changes things and the best way to convey this to your teen is to tell them about your experiences and let them see that you made it and you are happy. If you can, pick somebody they know so they can relate to the situation. If nothing else, you'll probably see that beautiful smile again.