Losing a longtime love is never easy. I know. I lost the love of my life that I had been with for 49 years. She lost her battle with cancer. So, here’s some information and advice from someone who has had first-hand experience.
Firstly, let’s establish this. You have not lost love. You have lost THAT love in the form it had existed. At this point, I’m not sure what will happen, but I do know that there will always be love in some form. It’s still too early to know if there will be another significant other, but I do know that I still love. Love comes in many forms. I love my children. I love my grandchildren. I love my extended family. I love my friends. I’m at the other end of the time spectrum. As my good friend and college football teammate likes to remind me, “We’re in the “fourth quarter, baby.”
Regardless of which “quarter” you are in the game of life, losing a love from a breakup, a death, or for any other reason is hard. When you have exposed all your vulnerabilities to another human being, you are open for a world of hurt. But not allowing yourself to be vulnerable and close means you will never experience the incredible level of joy and fulfillment that accompanies a close relationship.
Breakups, for whatever reason (and death is most certainly one of those), can be incredibly painful. Keep in mind that the mirror image of grief is love. The deeper the love, the greater the grief. But, trust me, the rewards are well worth the risk. The most human of all things is a close relationship with another human being. Humans are social beings.
So many psychopathologies are a result of a flawed relationship with another person. Some people choose not to ever be vulnerable to another human being because of the severe pain that comes along with a breakup. On the flip side, there is nothing in life more fulfilling than being close to another person. Of course, there are different kinds of love and relationships such as romantic love, close friendship, the love of a child or grandchild, etc. But they all have one thing in common, the sheer joy that come with being close to another human being. Most certainly there are different types of love and different levels of love. As an example, a couple going together or married for, let’s just say, a year, cannot possibly have the depth of love established over decades of being together. But don’t discount it as “puppy love” as some adults do with adolescents. Time alone does not make love better. For some, time may diminish love. It all takes work.
So, whether you’ve lost someone after going together for several months or a few years, or whether you’ve lost the love of your life after almost five decades together, remember that you’ve not lost love. You’ve just lost THAT love. Don’t let that stop you from loving, as hard and as harsh as that may sound. That other person will ALWAYS be a part of you no matter how painful the breakup was.
Tikkun Olam- heal the world. Leave it a better place when you leave.