Co-Founder of the Difficult Break-up Support Group Shares that Healing Comes Through Connections

Laura Waters Black and her husband Austin Black

“The most powerful catalyst for healing is making connections with people who have had similar experiences,” says Laura Waters Black, co-founder of the Difficult Break-up Support Group on BYU campus. Waters Black, a family studies major, started the group because of her experience with a broken relationship and because she “did not want other people to feel alone.” With help from a friend, Waters Black was able to start the support group, receiving additional assistance from Professor Haupt of the School of Family Life, who, Waters Black reports, “believed in me and saw value in the idea.”

At the time Waters Black had the idea to start the group, she was also taking Professor Haupt’s SFL 315 writing class, a course that encourages students to publish their work and coaches them through the process. Waters Black felt inspired to write about her experience with a broken engagement for a class assignment, because she had “felt marginalized and isolated at that time and wanted to help others” by telling her story. Writing about her experience proved impactful to Waters Black, who said, “I never thought I’d do public scholarship, but writing about my experience was transformative and took me to areas I’d never thought I’d be in.”

Organizing and joining in on sessions of the Difficult Break-up Support Group has also proved to be a transformative experience for Waters Black. The support group involves 10-week sessions, with therapists leading psychoeducational discussions on topics such as trust, shame, and ambiguous loss. Participants engage in deep interactions and confront challenges together. As someone who has gone through similar trials, Waters Black says that she can be a mentor figure in these sessions, showing these women that there is “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Waters Black adds that the “most beautiful thing to see is when people with different experiences come together.” The group has included 20-year-olds and 60-year-olds, who are able to connect with one another despite their differences in age and life experience. Waters Black says that what has stood out to her from these group sessions is how the older women respect the pain of younger women. An older woman who experienced years of relationship challenges once comforted a 19-year-old who had a painful 6-month relationship by telling her: “Pain is pain for you, and I don’t think your pain is less than mine.” For Waters Black, the experience of creating and participating in the Difficult Break-up Support Group has been “healing for me in ways I didn’t think I needed.”

To learn about the importance of human connections in overcoming trauma, read Waters Black’s article here. Also, watch out for her upcoming article in the Ensign: “How a Broken Engagement Healed My Heart.”

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