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On the mend

Cartoonist and author Mimi Pond asked, quoting a line from the hit 1966 song by Jimmy Ruffin, “What becomes of the broken-hearted?”

Pond’s answer: “They buy shoes.”

Where do you find comfort or shelter when your heart is broken?

Some go to the grocery or a fast-food restaurant or the refrigerator and grab some comfort food like chocolate ice cream.

Some don’t comfort themselves, because they were taught that would be selfish. Generous to a fault where others are concerned, they deny themselves simple tender loving care. Advice to put their arms around themselves sounds plum silly.

Some narcotize the pain. Some drink moderately; some drink to excess.

Amelia Havisham, in Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” is literature’s poster-person for what not to do when broken-hearted. On her wedding, Amelia received a letter from her con artist groom-to-be that he would not be marrying her. She descended into deep depression. She left the wedding cake uneaten on a cobweb-covered bridal banquet table for decades, every day wore her yellowing wedding dress and had all the clocks in her mansion stopped at 8:40, the exact time she read her Dear Amelia letter.

The Bee Gees, in their 1971 hit “How can you mend a broken heart?” plaintively side with Miss Havisham. Mending a broken heart, they plead, at first feels as impossible as stopping the rain from falling, the sun from shining or the world going round.

What to do?

1. Admit to yourself and one true friend how heartbroken you are.

2. Like a dog licking its wounds, retreat into your den and mourn a while.

3. Eventually begin treating yourself more kindly, the way a loving grandparent or friend would pamper you.

4. Take away some life-lesson from your loss, like intentionally being more compassionate toward the broken-hearted.