” ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”-Alfred Lord Tennyson
Ask a griever in the pain of missing a loved one any day of the year whether it truly is better to have loved and lost. Some may say that the pain they experience is too overwhelming that it makes them wish they never loved in the first place.
I’ve always related Tennyson’s words to romantic love, but as a griever the words hit my heart more profoundly. Is it really better to have loved and lost someone to death than not to have loved them at all?
For now, I think of all the memories I wouldn’t have if not for the love I shared. I think of all the stories I wouldn’t have to tell if not for the love I shared. I think of the lessons I wouldn’t have to impart to my child if not for the love I shared. I think of the support I would have missed out on, the encouragement, the laughter, the conflict, the joy, the perspective…all the things that helped form me. So, my answer may be: yes, it is better to have loved and lost, considering all the things that came with that love.
Don’t get me wrong…I really, really, REALLY wish grief hurt a lot less than it does. I really wish I didn’t have to go through emotional upheavals on regular and irregular bases. And, if I hadn’t loved as deeply as I did (and do), I wouldn’t be in this much pain. But what would my life be without it? What is the cost of never having loved at all?
Losing that love propelled me in so many directions: I changed my priorities, I grew more compassionate, I took huge risks to get the things that I knew I really wanted in life, I learned to love more deeply, I shed many of the obstructions to my goals, I decided to take better care of myself, I stopped listening to what others demand I should be…all because I lost a huge love in my life.
That’s my response…today. Ask me another time, and my answer may be different. Like anything in grief, the answer is conditional.
Only a griever can decide for themselves whether it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. The answer doesn’t have to be permanent, either. As grief ebbs and flows, progresses and regresses, a griever may change their answer to coincide with the emotional fluctuations of the grief calendar. And that’s okay.
What do you think at this moment? Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?