The Hidden Cost of Heartbreak
By Aurora Winter



Heartbreak robs us of joy and vitality. It steals our enthusiasm, our energy, and our dreams. It kidnaps our creativity and drive. It undermines our relationships, our health, and our ability to focus. Heartbreak hijacks our clarity and productivity.

Yet heartbreak is like a thief in the night — sometimes the real villain goes undetected. Heartbreak has so many culprits. The usual suspects are: divorce, death, a breakup, job loss, pet death, and family or financial crisis.

Heartbreak’s shadow can loom over an individual, a family, a community, or a workplace. An entire people can be affected by loss and broken dreams, as we see with aboriginal peoples. Even an entire nation can be affected, as we saw with 9-11.


For an individual, the death of a spouse is the most stressful event, followed by divorce, the death of a family member, menopause, bankruptcy, major legal problems (such as a custody battle or jail term). Next in terms of stressfulness are: serious illness or injury, job loss, and change in health of an immediate family member. To find out how stressed you are today, take an online quiz at

It is difficult to put a price tag on stress. Stress compromises your immune system and your health. Heartbreak can result in fatal heart attacks, and is called “Broken Heart Syndrome.”


It is essential that businesses connect the dots between heartbreak and lost productivity, so they see the benefit of supporting their employees through difficult times.

For example, Don Lee returned to work just two days after his daughter’s funeral. He sat at his desk, thinking of his daughter’s stay in intensive care. Melinda, 20, was a college student hit by a drunk driver. She remained on life support for 54 days, alert and optimistic but unable to talk. Throughout his workday, Don thought about his daughter. “I put in my full eight-hour day,” he said, “but for six months, I didn’t do more than four hours of work each day.”

Don’s inability to focus at work is common. The Wall Street Journal reported that the workplace cost of heartbreak is $75 billion dollars per year. That cost stems from lost productivity, absenteeism, and increased errors and accidents, based on an extensive study done by The Grief Recovery Institute in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Some findings:

Death of a loved one    $37.6 billion
Divorce/Marital woes    $11 billion
Family Crisis    $9 billion
Death of an Acquaintance    $7 billion
Financial Trouble    $4.6 billion
Pet Loss    $2.4 billion
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

“When your heart is broken, your head doesn’t work right,” says Russell Friedman, the institute’s co-director. Counselors interviewed more than 25,000 heartbroken people, and almost all said that their job performance was affected.

Jane Dutton, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Michigan says that companies help their employees be better workers when they show “organizational compassion.” She conducted a two-year study on the topic, and found that heartbroken workers are uplifted when company leaders respond to the situation rather than ignoring it.

When Prof. Dutton’s daughter almost died at the age of 3, her two employers responded in completely different ways. One was extremely supportive, while the other “reacted with silence, as if it didn’t happen.” Prof. Dutton says, “There is always grief somewhere in the room. Companies have to deal with it.”

If you are an employer, heartbreak is definitely costing your company. The only question is how much. And… what are you going to do about it?

As an individual, the hidden costs of heartbreak are even more far-reaching and insidious. But the question remains the same… what are you going to do about it?
So many people believe the myth that it “just takes time.” The truth is, it is not the passage of time that counts. It’s what you do with the time. Time alone is a very slow healer.
University of Illinois psychologist Edward Diener discovered through extensive research that the loss of a spouse or the loss of a job knocks people off their prior happiness levels for 5-8 years.
I know. After my husband died suddenly at the age of 33, I suffered for years. Now I am passionate about helping others move from heartbreak to happiness as quickly as possible. Why suffer for 5-8 years when you can heal in 5-8 months, or in some cases 5-8 weeks? What could possibly be more important than your own peace of mind and happiness?

So many people tolerate being heartbroken. Are you limping through a half-lived life, resigned?

In “The Portable Coach” Thomas Leonard asks, “What are you tolerating?” Everything you are tolerating drains your energy, whether you are putting up with a dripping faucet or a cheating husband. I invite you to identify 50 things that you’re tolerating, then work on eliminating the one draining the greatest amount of energy.

In my experience, the biggest energy leak is heartbreak. That is one of the reasons I am so passionate about empowering and educating individuals, organizations, and corporations about how to enhance authentic happiness.

The benefits to corporations include improved productivity, improved profitability, improved relationships, reduced turnover, reduced accidents, and enhanced employee loyalty and goodwill.
To the individual, the benefits also include enhanced happiness, health and wealth.

The Law of Attraction, recently popularized by the movie “The Secret,” tells us that like attracts like. It makes sense. Happy people are fun to be around. Customers like to buy from them. Happy people attract better opportunities from job offers, to relationships, to other opportunities.

I recently got a call “out of the blue” from a filmmaker who subsequently featured me in “What If” the movie. Happy people enjoy such unexpected and delightful opportunities.

Through my coaching programs, workshops, and online courses, I teach a method that empowers people to move from heartbreak to happiness quickly. Participants who took my happiness course had amazing results. Over 90% of the participants who started in the least happy 15% of the U.S. population ended the course being above average in happiness.

From that dramatically happier place, their lives were transformed. They were empowered to resume fulfilling, meaningful, productive lives. One widow was so grateful for her rapid transformation from heartbroken to happy that she ordered a custom license plate “THXAURORA.” Your life can be filled with authentic happiness, too.

The first key to having a life filled with authentic happiness is to decide that you’re going to be happy. Abraham Lincoln said, “Happiness is a choice.” I invite you to make the decision today to be happy.
I like Dan Millman’s book, “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.” I think happiness is like that. Choosing happiness can take the discipline of a warrior. But it’s worth it. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be miserable — either way, it takes the same amount of work.

What are you willing to do to be happy? Read a book, take a course, hire a coach. Take action. You’re worth it.

Aurora Winter is a speaker, coach, and the author of: “From Heartbreak to Happiness: An Intimate Diary of Healing.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “I read every page of this beautiful diary — it touched my heart and I know it will impact yours.”

Free teleseminars and free ebook available online at: To book Aurora as a speaker or coach, call (866) 344-3108.

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