The question of how to handle a break up depends on a number of factors, and the only thing they have in common is that no matter which option you choose, you'll still be in pain. Intellectually, you know that such feelings are normal. You've severed (or someone else has severed) an important component of your life, and the resulting sense of loss and emptiness no doubt seems overwhelming. You are not alone, although it may appear that way.
Although it might seem like cold comfort, try to understand that this sensation is temporary. You will heal in time. Perhaps not today, and perhaps not tomorrow, but you will heal. Just as you don't (usually) fall in love on a dime, you can't claw your way out of its depths on a moment's notice, either.
But while there is unfortunately no quick cure for a broken heart, the temptation to self-medicate may be strong. An over-indulgence in alcohol, poor food choices, or a rebound relationship -- any of these may seem like a tempting option, but none of them will solve the underlying problem. Instead, consider the following coping strategies:
How to Handle a Break Up with Minimal Emotional Turmoil
1. Purge your home of painful reminders of the past. Regardless of whether you shared your house or apartment with your ex, or if you merely dated, there are probably some mementos of him or her lying around: a hairbrush tossed inside the nightstand drawer, a favorite CD left on top of the stereo, a special photograph lovingly displayed on your desk. If the items belong to you, pack them into a box and put them in your closet for a while. If they belong to the other person, go ahead and put them in a box, but try to find a mutual friend who will deliver the box for you. Consider redecorating -- change the sheets, the curtains, or simply rearrange the furniture. Anything to make your living space into something new, something which has less tangible reminders of the past.
2. Don't call the person. Often, it's less painful (in the long run) to make a clean break from a relationship. If you've ever had a scab that took forever to heal because you kept picking at it, you'll understand the logic. Calling the person and begging him or her to take you back, or insisting that you can "be friends" and do things socially together, may seem less cruel; you may think a "friends only" relationship is better than no relationship at all. But if the two of you aren't on the same page (and you won't be, or else you wouldn't have broken up in the first place), then at least one of you will be uncomfortable.
3. Take some time for yourself. Make the loss of your relationship into an opportunity to find out more about you. Read a book, take a trip, reconnect with all the friends you've neglected for far too long, or sign up for a class in something completely frivolous! Do something that takes you out of your usual groove. Place yourself in new situations, surrounded by new people. You might make some amazing new friends.
But most importantly:
4. Don't seek a permanent solution to a temporary heartache. Sadness and depression are normal in a situation like this. Suicidal thoughts or unending despair are not. If the unhappiness becomes too much for you to bear, seek professional help right away.