The recent death of George Jones had me listening to “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and thinking about people who can’t bounce back from a broken heart. Those unhappy souls who, following the death of a loved one or a failed relationship, turn to unhealthy coping behaviors, such as alcohol or drug abuse and sometimes progress to suicide, intentional or not. “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley tells the tale of a spurned lover, “We watched him drink his pain away a little at a time, but he never could get drunk enough to get her off his mind until the night he put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger and finally drank away her memory.” Country star Mindy McCready died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on her front porch a month after the man she called her “soul mate” shot himself on the same porch. Love can kill.
Most of us who suffer a broken heart go through a period of intense mourning, but few of us plunge into a devastating tailspin from which we can’t recover. Why? In psychological terms, it’s called resilience, and it refers to the quality that allows us to be knocked down by life but return, sometimes even stronger. Though it’s romantic to think our broken heart is a reason to give up and sink into depression, it’s not a healthy coping response. Believing we can mend and learn from the experience is.
And maybe that’s the difference between those who survive a broken heart and those who don’t. The survivors mourn the loss, remember the good times, and know that at some point there will be better times.
- George Jones, country superstar, has died at 81 – King of Broken Hearts (shanebentleyonline.com.au)
- Opinion: Jones filtered music through broken heart (cnn.com)