The connection between love and pain is deep. In fact, you can’t have one without the other. They are the opposite sides of the same experience. When we love, we feel the pain of leaving, of betrayal, of loss, of death. If we aren’t willing to endure the pain, we don’t get to experience love, either. They come together.
This year has been a time of losses for so many. It causes a pain so deep that it feels “intolerable”. I keep saying that to myself today as we lost Rocky, after losing September just weeks ago. These icons touched the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people. They did this with trust. When we lose them, the pain is intolerable. But here’s the thing; that pit in your stomach, the ache in your heart, the emptiness, the vagus nerve crying out for something that is no longer in a form we can tangibly connect to; all of that is worth the love and the connection that was felt for the years and years before.
When we allow ourselves to feel that pain, and acknowledge that it will change over time, even moment by moment, we are acknowledging the love we felt, and still feel. We understand the incomprehensible concept that our world has fundamentally changed. Then as we move forward, we start to allow the life to take over the death. When a death, or any loss, is fresh we only see the death. When we allow ourselves the time to grieve and give ourselves permission to share our grief with others, we start to slowly remember the life. It is when the death overcomes the life that we get stuck. Unendurably stuck. And this pattern of stuck-ness does not serve us as it has us looking only at what we once had, not what we have in front of us.
The scary part, always, is that we don’t know-and can’t possibly know-what the life in front of us looks like. We have to stay curious about what might happen next. We serve ourselves by feeling the pain of losing one that we’ve loved, and then remembering the life we had with them, and staying curious about what comes after their time with us. It is the way forward.
I hope that everyone who sees this takes the time to actively think about what they loved about the ones they’ve lost. I hope they acknowledge the fear and pain of the loss. And then I hope they allow themselves to be curious about what comes next. For us, and for the ones that have left.
Author: Holly Jedlicka, MSW, LISW-S