Māori are innately a relationships people influenced by generations of knowledge, practices and beliefs of whānaungatanga. This is a deliberate practice of connectedness, often yearned for in contemporary times, where Māori will engage with others, to affirm whakapapa, to seek commonalities and acknowledge cultural and spiritual significance.
Māori view the importance in attending to our relationships, the more closely we are connected, the stronger sense of belonging, place and identity we will have.
Generally, people value their relationships, often the emotional bond formed in a relationship will find the more secure and closely we feel connected to the people we love, the happier we feel and the more comforted.
So when there are stresses, disruptions, challenges or break ups in our relationships, it can spell one of the most challenging of times and for some people it will provoke an emotional crisis. In some cases, people have looked to their partners for security and comfort, and the emotional bond formed has become an essential part of who they are. If the relationship ends, it may mean feeling like losing a sense of security and identity – this is why relationship break ups feel physical and emotional.
Feeling down or upset about problems in a relationship or a break up is understandable, as feelings associated with grief and anger are normal healthy responses to a loss. But the pain associated with losing a loved one in a relationship can feel like the end of the world. For some people, they may experience symptoms like trouble concentrating, anger, lack of appetite, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, loss of motivation and even thoughts of harming themselves.
If a person is feeling really bad, their mood is affecting school, studies or work or its just difficult to take care of themselves or their whānau, it’s a sign they need help. It is essential for people to recognise the potential dangers that can come from a whānau member or a friend who is going through a relationship breakup – regardless of how long the relationship had been for.
What you can do is to be present, be nearby and be available to listen and to talk. You can facilitate supportive spaces for rest, reflection and care. Where necessary, help with encouraging access to professional help, to assist your whānau member or friend with working through the loss.
Article by: Dr Maria Baker