The loss of a loved one is possibly the most painful experience any of us will ever have. Recuperating from such a loss is a long, difficult journey. In fact, we’re never the same. And we’re not supposed to be. One of the purposes of lost love is for those remaining to re-examine who they are.
We develop an identity around a relationship that is separate from our own personal identity. We become comfortable with how we see ourselves within that context and it gives us a sense of “being” that wasn’t there before. That doesn’t mean it’s healthy to feel like we “need” another person in our lives to be whole. (That’s a whole other blog). I’m talking about the connection between two or more people that bonds us – as a couple, a family, friends, etc that becomes an entity separate from the individuals involved.
This identity gives us strength – a frame of reference for how our life is going to play out. When a part of that entity is taken away, it literally rocks our world, and initially, we don’t know how to proceed.
When I think of this process of coming into a new sense of Self in a loving relationship, I remember watching one of my granddaughter’s favorite movies with her – The Velveteen Rabbit. Shortly after we watched the movie, I came across this passage in the book DARING GREATLY by BrenE Brown. She quotes the toys in the original book – it’s a beautiful reminder of how good it feels when we know we’re loved:
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Those of us who have experienced grief know all too well the pain that comes along with losing someone we care for deeply. The temptation is often to close off our hearts so we don’t have to experience this pain again. But that’s where the lessons are – in the love and in the pain.
If we don’t allow ourselves to completely experience each relationship, we are not fully alive. As difficult as it is when the loss comes, it somehow makes the love that much more precious.