Part III: A heartbreak compendium (as compiled by you)

Words by Madeleine Dore
Art by Amelia Goss 

When we experience heartbreak – be it from the loss of a relationship, rejection, work disappointments or grief – our days are dismantled, yet we also show incredible resilience.

As part two in this series showed, much of our ability to move through heartbreak comes from our inner reserves and the support of the people around us, as well as other structures such as work, health or art. But there is also great comfort to be found in the seemingly small things that surround us – a song, a quote, an Instagram account, a book.

Shifting through almost 100 responses from our heartbreak routine survey, it was incredible to the range of small but uplifting things people turn to to overcome heartbreak. Sometimes we want to deep dive into the feelings of heartbreak through songs or art that shines a light on the experience; sometimes we want a light-hearted distraction through the comfort of our favourite sitcom or a TED Talk.

In Part III of the heartbreak routine series, we’ve collected the books, TV shows, movies, quotes, and advice shared by participants to help you move through heartbreak so you can have your own heartbreak index to turn to. 

Thank you to the incredible participants who shared their own private compendiums of heartbreak to build this list. I hope you find something in here that heals and empowers – if only for a moment.

Movies and television

  • Binging sitcoms: Seinfeld, The Office, Friends, The Mindy Project, How I Met Your Mother  – “I know the scenarios aren't real, but they give me hope.”
  • Sleepless in Seattle
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Pride & Prejudice (BBC)
  • Any film by Noah Baumbach
  • Sanam Teri Kasam (Love, My Promise On You)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Adaptation

Books, writing and writers

  • Essays in Love, Alain de Botton
  • The Course of Love, Alain de Botton
  • When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chödrön
  • The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
  • To Bless the Space Between Us, John O'Donohue   
  • Wild, Cheryl Strayed
  • Just Kids, Patti Smith
  • I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
  • How Should A Person Be? Shelia Heti
  • The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron
  • The Unspeakable, Meghan Daum
  • Has Anyone Seen My Pants? Sarah Colonna
  • Let me hold you while I may, poem by Mary Jean Irion
  • Tiny Buddha
  • Just give it 7 seconds
  • Sweet Darkness, poem by David Whyte
  • Lora Mathis, writer
  • Bethany Toews, writer
  • Brene Brown, writer and researcher
  • Jane Austen – "She knows what she's doing"

Songs and musicians

  • 'Spirit Bird' by Xavier Rudd
  • 'Let It Go' from the Frozen soundtrack
  • 'Let's call a heart a heart' by Billie Holiday
  • 'All to Myself' by Amber Coffman
  • Melodrama by Lorde
  • After Laughter by Paramore
  • Rainbow by Kesha
  • Nick Cave
  • Sia
  • ELO
  • Patti Smith
  • Coldplay
  • Nina Simone
  • Joni Mitchell

Podcasts and YouTube channels

  • On Being podcast with Krista Tippett
  • Design Matters podcast with Debbie Millman
  • The Unmistakable Creative podcast
  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  • The Good Life podcast
  • I'm A Feminist, but... podcast
  • S-Town
  • TED Talks
  • Cornelia Grimsmo YouTube
  • School of Life YouTube
  • Tara Stiles youtube yoga YouTube


  • Buy or make yourself something green when you're sad
  • Therapy
  • The School of Life classes
  • Travel
  • Go home – “when it all turns to shit, head for home."
  • Get a tattoo – "One of my tattoos is in Latin and means 'the choice is yours.' In heartbreak, you're usually reacting to someone else's choice which we can't control. But we can control how we react to that. It's a powerful concept."


“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy." – Pema Chödrön

“For what it's worth... it's never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you've never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you're not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to see the ways that you yourself have changed.” – Nelson Mandela

“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost

"This too shall pass." – Persian adage

"If it felt so good with the wrong person, imagine how great it will feel when the right person comes along." – Unknown

"I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling." – Frida Kahlo

"i know it's hard believe me i know it feels like tomorrow will never come and today will be the most difficult day to get through but i swear you will get through the hurt will pass as it always does if you give it time and let it so let it go slowly like a broken promise let it go." – Rupi Kaur

"You are what you love, not what loves you." – from the film Adaptation

"This above all else; to thine own self be true."  – Shakespeare

Quotes and advice from respondents of the survey

“You have a huge reservoir within you, and still be brave, and try to live a fulfilling life. Remember that everyone is figuring it out too. And that humans have a greater capacity to heal than what we often think we do.”

“This experience is part of having a fully lived, human experience. If I really want that for myself (and I told myself I did), that has to include heartbreak and loss just as it includes deep love and connection. I remember saying to myself that if I ever become a mother and my child comes to me, truly heartbroken, I want to be able to look them in the eye and say 'Darling, I know'. That always gave me comfort and it continues to be true for me now. In the end, although I never wanted it, the aftermath of that relationship was as rich as the relationship itself. Despite the pain (and I can still access that pain if I try), I feel nothing but gratitude now for having been through it.”

“By embracing the adventure, you show yourself the possibilities that have just plopped themselves on your doorstep. Embrace the time to figure out who you are on your own and who you can be now that you have just yourself to mind for a while. Exercise extreme self-care and self-discovery. “

“One thing that I think is very important is to not Internet stalk an ex or crush who isn't interested. It's unhealthy and stops you from moving on.”

“Whether it's friends or lovers or  ven a job heartbreak, you just have to remember that it ALWAYS only gets better. You just need to keep yourself lifted remember your worth, remember that if that person or job doesn't want you: a) you don't need them and b) someone and something better will find you and you will be wondering why you ever felt so bad in the first place once it comes around. So just enjoy the time you have – let yourself be sad it's normal but keep pushing through and you definitely will find the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Just keep swimming. Take things one minute at a time, eventually you'll get to one hour at a time, and one day at a time. Extreme ownership is actually empowering. Today is what you make it. You have agency – choice in everything you do, so pick your perspective.”

“Hard to believe but this shall pass. You are stronger than you believe. In 10 years it will only cross your mind occasionally, with amusement and gratitude as you wouldn't be the person you are today without it – all cliché, but true.”

“Feelings are temporary and fleeting, but truth and trust are not.  Find those things and stick to them. Don't subscribe to the idea that you have to be over someone in a certain amount of time. Healing is not linear. Walk your dog a lot. If you miss them than miss them. Think of the light than let that shit go.”

Repeat mentions

Read more from the heartbreak routine series:
Part I: How heartbreak jolts your daily routine
Part II: How routine can help us move through grief and heartbreak

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CollectionsMadeleine Dore