Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

The greatest coping mechanisms for heartache, break up and divorce from the world's wisest women

woman waking up.jpg

It’s without a doubt one of the hardest things to go through in life, the emotional turmoil of a long-term break up or divorce can test the very core of our being. 

And while such an experience can leave people with a complete loss of hope and utter despair it’s comforting to know some of the world's most inspirational women have gone through the exact same thing and have come out the other side and often that they’ve come out stronger.

In the middle of divorce, it's important to remind yourself that life won't always be so difficult. There will, in fact, come a day when you don't struggle to pull yourself out of bed and get yourself to work. You won't always want to take cover and curl up and hide from the world. 

From Ava Gardner who "rented a house in Palm Springs and sat there and suffered" until she was strong enough to face it, to Amy Poehler who joked her way through it, to Reese Witherspoon who said she gained life knowledge from it; these inspirational women share the mechanisms they used for coping with their own heartache that could help us all. 

With a devastating divorce years behind her Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert is happily married to her second husband

Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

In the open letter she wrote to her 300,000+ Facebook followers earlier this year titled A Letter To The Brokenhearted, Elizabeth says: "You aren't allowed to seek your happiness in the past, because that's impossible. No matter how beautifully and romantically it started, the end result was that he wrecked you. So let's get straight with that.

"Secondly — do you honestly think the universe is so limited, and that God is so boring and unimaginative that the only pathway for your happiness is through THIS GUY WHO BROKE YOUR HEART? Or is it possible that something bigger and more glorious is waiting out there for you?"

Maya Angelou never clarified number of times she married "for fear of sounding frivolous"

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

In A letter to heartbreak – the light and the dark Maya says: "The hardest thing about heartbreak isn’t to get up after it just happened. It’s to keep on getting up, the day after that, and the week after that, and the month after that. And the bloody year.

"Heartache feels like you’re carrying a heavy jar where your chest used to be. That jar was full of all the things you loved about that person – but heartache makes it empty. No matter what you do, where you are, who you see, that jar feels empty.

"But slowly, surely, the jar starts to be refilled. I like to think of it like sand – coloured, beautiful, light-reflecting sand. With time, patience, compassion, and maybe a bit more time, random experiences tip a little more bright, silky sand into that previously-empty space.

"Before you realise it, the jar isn’t quite so empty, and the sand and shells and glitter that used to make you you, start to come back. And I know for sure that you need light to make things shine."

Nora Ephron was married to her third ­husband Dan Greenburg for over 20 years

Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron was married to her third ­husband Dan Greenburg for over 20 years

In her book: I Remember Nothing Nora Ephron reflects on her two failed marriages saying: "One good thing I’d like to say about divorce is that it sometimes makes it possible for you to be a much better wife to your next ­husband because you have a place for your anger. Another good thing about divorce is that it makes clear something that marriage obscures, which is that you’re on your own."

The ever wise Nora adds: "My religion is Get Over It. I turned it into a rollicking story. I wrote a novel. I bought a house with the money from the novel. Divorce seems as if it will last ­forever, and then suddenly, one day, your ­children grow up, move out, and make lives for themselves. The divorce has lasted way longer than the marriage, but finally it’s over.

"The point is that for a long time, the fact that I was divorced was the most important thing about me. And now it’s not."

Amy Poehler announced she and Will Arnett were splitting up in September 2012 after 9 years of marriage

Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler

From her memoir, Yes Please, Parks and Recreation star Amy says: "When you are a person going through a divorce, you feel incredibly alone, yet you are constantly reminded by society of how frequently divorce happens and how common it has become.

"You aren't allowed to feel special, but no one knows the specific ways you are in pain."

Poehler adds: "Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands."

"I am proud of how my ex-husband Will and I have been taking care of our children," she writes. "I am beyond grateful he is their father, and I don't think a ten-year marriage constitutes failure. That being said, getting a divorce really sucks."

Luckily good friend Louis CK has some advice: "As my dear friend and relationship sponsor Louis has noted, 'Divorce is always good news because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.' When you can no longer cry it's time to laugh.. 

Ava Gardner was married three times to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra

Ava Gardner

Ava Gardner

From Ava My Story: "When you have to face up to the fact that marriage to the man you love is really over, that's very tough, sheer agony. In that kind of harrowing situation, I always go away and cut myself off from the world.

"Also, I sober up immediately when there is genuine bad news in my life; I never face it with alcohol in my brain. I just rented a house in Palm Springs and sat there and just suffered for a couple of weeks. I suffered there until I was strong enough to face it.” 

Reese Witherspoon divorced Ryan Phillippe in 2007 after eight years 

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon

"When people get in your face and say, 'This will pass,' you think, 'Are they crazy? I'm never gonna feel any better than I feel right this minute and nothing's ever gonna make sense again.'

"You see a lot of people play this blame game. Blame, blame, blame. You know? And it's a really easy thing to do, and I'm certainly guilty of it. [You have to] look at yourself and go, 'What part of this do I need to own? Which part of this is my responsibility?'

"And that's the painful work that you have to go through to hopefully get some real life knowledge out of it."

Marilyn Monroe was married three times to James Dougherty, Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

"I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together."

Anne Hathaway had a messy break up with ex Raffaello Follieri who was jailed for 54 months for fraud before marrying Adam Shulman in 2012

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway

"I think the thing that I have learned is that a bad love experience is no reason to fear a new love experience, but you have to be very honest at every single stage with the person about how you've been hurt, and hopefully they will be supportive about whatever it is that you have to go through. Everybody has bad relationships and, at the end of the day, they are just a great way to set yourself up for a good relationship."

Jennifer Aniston famously divorced Brad Pitt in 2005 after five years married

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston

"Am I lonely? Yes. Am I upset? Yes. Am I confused? Yes. Do I have my days when I've thrown a little pity party for myself? Absolutely. But I'm also doing really well.  It was just like, sometimes things [happen].

"I'd be a robot if I said I didn't feel moments of anger, of hurt, of embarrassment… [but] You joke and say, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger'."

Comments

More

Isla Fisher praises Donald Trump as an inspiration to “orange people”

The actress also mocked Melania Trump for plagiarising Michelle Obama’s speech.

by Moya Crockett
08 Dec 2016

Keira Knightley on daughter’s four-letter reaction to Trump victory

19-month-old Edie sums up our feelings perfectly.

by Amy Lewis
08 Dec 2016

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Mindy Kaling's latest encounter to Cara Delevingne's post-party blues

by Nicola Colyer
08 Dec 2016

Danish aid worker tops list of world’s most inspiring people

Anja Ringgren Lovén is saving the lives of abandoned children in Nigeria

by Sarah Biddlecombe
08 Dec 2016

Rihanna: “We don’t need to be putting black women against each other”

Ri-Ri responds perfectly to rumours that she’s been feuding with Beyoncé.

by Moya Crockett
08 Dec 2016

Lauren Graham – aka Lorelai Gilmore – on finding love with her co-star

The Gilmore Girls actor admits it was their love of reading that brought them together

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016

This is what Michelle Obama did the night Donald Trump was elected

We love her honesty

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016

Kate Moss bags new role selling street food in Brick Lane

“C’mon, get ya Viet buns”

by Amy Lewis
07 Dec 2016

Scarlett Moffatt praises NHS after 'crazy' Spanish hospital experience

“In other countries, people can’t afford to be well”

by Kayleigh Dray
07 Dec 2016

Female MP shares “creepy” letter telling her how to dress

“Hide the skin and people will look you in the eyes”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
07 Dec 2016