Have you ever loved someone a whole bunch and then lost them? Whether it was a relationship that went bad, or a best friend who moved to another country, or a relative who died, or even a favorite pet that passed away…the loss is very strong and very real. Sometimes it hurts so much that it physically, measurably hurts.
Alfred Lord Tennyson said: “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
I used to think that was the stupidest statement. Losing love hurts; it’s sad, and it sucks. It’s like something supernatural came into your heart and scooped out a big piece of it that you can never get back. It’s like losing a pen, only not just any pen, but your favorite pen. It’s like needing a bowl of chocolate ice cream so badly you can already taste it and feel its medicinal healing properties, but when you go to the freezer, you find out that somebody else ate the last of the ice cream two days earlier.
It’s a void. It’s palpable. It sucks. (I said that before, but it bears repeating.) It’s something that is actually missing from your life. And if you’d never had the love in the first place, then you wouldn’t be feeling the loss of it so profoundly.
After it’s gone, you have to relearn how to do things differently without that somebody. You can’t share experiences with that somebody in real time, you can’t nudge that somebody in the ribs and say “did you see that?” or text that somebody a funny story that happened to you that day. And every time you think to yourself “oh I’ve got to tell them about…”, you’ll then remember that you can’t. Because they aren’t there any longer.
But what if…
…you had never experienced that love? What if you’d never known that togetherness, that reliance, that openness, that vulnerability, that strength, that support, that fellowship, that growth, that friendship? Having had a love/loss experience doesn’t mean “now you know what you’re missing” in a bad way, it means “now you know what’s possible” in a good way.
After each loss, and unfortunately there will be more than one in everybody’s lifetime, you learn and grow and become stronger. You might be able to use your experience to help yourself grow in some way. You might be able to use it to help somebody else who’s going through something similar.
You might be able to open up the next time in a different way, from a different angle, or you might not open yourself up again in that way at all but in other ways, ways in which you give to others and receive love from those encounters.
Whatever the outcome, the fact is that losing a love still sucks, but at least the quote makes a little bit of sense in this context. Many times we won’t understand the why of it, but that’s when faith comes in.
Proverbs 3:5 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Even though we might not understand why the situation is what it is, we can know that He has a plan around it. He made our hearts strong.
The average heart beats approximately 75 times/minute = 4,500/hour = 108,000/day! It can handle breaking and healing back up again.
How do you heal from a loss like that? Unfortunately, there is no magic pill, no secret elixir, no panacea. There are a few things that can help, though, like time and distance.
- Time is as much time as is needed for you and your particular situation. There is NO set time that will work. Healing happens a little bit every day and however many days (or weeks or months or even years) it takes, then that’s how long it will take.
- Distance is whatever distance you need to place between you and the person, or you and the memories, or you and a similar situation. Again, the distance is as individualized as the time is. And don’t let anybody tell you any differently.
Distraction also works. You must mourn, mourning is natural, so allow yourself to do that. And then do something else. Focus on work, hobbies, interests, helping others, whatever feels good.
And make sure you always have two containers of ice cream in the freezer…just in case you need back-up.
Becky is a single mom and a reluctant disciple, called to share her story with others in her own unconventional way. She knows God will equip her for her journey, and does her best to trust in His plan for that journey, and not to judge others on their journeys – unless the waist of their pants is at their butt cheeks; then she thinks they should pull those puppies up. Or if somebody says she eats too much chocolate; then she just can’t be friends with them anymore. But she will pray for them. Join her to discover how your plans and God’s plans come together in this life filled with groovy trails.