“Love is a hole in the heart.”-Ben Hecht
We often think of love as something that fulfills us. We love friends, we love family, we love children, we love significant others, we love ourselves. We can even love inanimate objects or experiences. Whatever it is that we love, we assume that love will give us warmth and support for the rest of our days. Then there is grief….
Grief is love.
Grief-love is not a fulfilling love, it is not warm and cozy. It is downright painful.
Grief-love is the presence of a profound absence in our lives. It is the a reminder of the loss of an irreplaceable person in our lives. It is a no-longer-reciprocated love because the receiver of the love is gone. And this grief-love leaves a big hole in the heart of grievers.
We are socialized to believe that love only heals and helps and supports…and that is true in the context of a healthy relationship with another living being. But grief? Grief is perhaps the only place where this painful love is allowed.
The pain we feel in grief isn’t a sign that there is something wrong with us. It is a sign of deep love that has been uprooted. The fact that we are pushed into hiding our painful grief-love is a sign that something is wrong with the society in which we live, something is wrong in our ability to empathize with loss and the pain of absent love associated with it.
We cannot fill the hole nor should we expect to; but we can tend to it. We can grow that love even in absence as we remember our lost loved one each day and to as many people as we can. The pain will not disappear, and the hole will never close; it will remain a permanent wound that occasionally oozes when prodded by a memory or new experience.
What can you do this week to tend the love that has left a hole in your heart?