The Love We Only Find In Loss

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Litsa

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It is nearly impossible to count the people who have shared their reflections on the relationship between grief and love. Just a few . . .

"Grief is the price you pay for love" -Colin Murray Parkes (later famously quoted by Queen Elizabeth II)

"Grief and love are two sides of the same coin" -a zillion people

"Grief can only exist where love lived first" - a zillion more people

"Grief is love with no place to go" - Jamie Anderson

Even Marvel got in on it recently:

"But what is grief, if not love persevering?" -Vision, Wandavision

We've even written about it here at WYG, in our article "Grief is Love".

Listing it out this way, it sounds quite pithy and cliche, doesn't it? It rings dangerously like something meant to round out the jagged edges of grief. I can imagine the rant of a griever, met with these sentiments from a well-intentioned friend at the wrong moment. These feel like a banal platitude, an effort to quell or distract from the immense pain of loss.

Yet grievers themselves articulate this same sentiment often - that grief is love. I have been thinking a lot lately about how love and grief, it isn't just a one-for-one exchange. It isn't that the exact same love we had for someone who was once living now transforms into the grief we have for them once they're gone. They consumed a space in our lives, they left a gaping hole, but grief feels somehow immensely bigger and greater than simply the hole. I think that might be why grievers talk about the relationship between love and grief in a different way than those offering banalities.

The Presence of Absence

Absence allows us to tap into a new depth of love, one we didn't know existed. It feels like a depth we simply couldn't access while they were still alive. It is a type of love predicated on the void they left in the world. When becoming a parent for the first time, so often people reach for words to explain that bringing a child into the world has opened the door to a type of love they didn't know existed. Strange as it seems, I find myself believing that losing someone we love so deeply does something similar.

We've talked before about yearning in grief. Yearning is actually one of the most common grief emotions, and yet it is one people often struggle to label. In 2007 grief researchers Paul K. Maciejewski and Holly Prigerson placed yearning front and center, citing findings that it’s actually a more dominant characteristic after a death than those emotions we most typically associate with grief like anger and sadness.

And when you think about it, it makes sense. Yearning, as the Oxford Dictionary defines it is to, have an intense feeling of longing for something, typically something that one has lost or been separated from". Researchers who look at yearning are even more specific:

“Yearning is an emotional state widely experienced in situations involving loss, focused on a desire for a person, place, or thing that was treasured in the past.”

O’Connor and Sussman (2014)

The Language of Love and Loss

There are words in other languages that point to this same sentiment and add to it. They add the piece that I suspect is crucial to understanding yearning in grief. It is a longing or yearning for something you know that you can't (or probably can't) get back.

In German, sehnsucht: A high degree of intense (recurring), and often painful desire for something, particularly if there is no hope to attain the desired, or when its attainment is uncertain, still far away.

In Portuguese, saudade: A deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never be had again.

When someone dies, their absence becomes its own presence. We come to love and hate their void. It represents all that is gone, all that we loved, all that miss. We hate the reality it represents - that they are physically missing from the world. But we also love the reality that it represents - that our love for that person is so great that they are still "here", even when they are no longer physically here. We grab ahold of their absence and cling it as tightly as we can. We still visit and revisit our memories, knowing they hold both the deepest joy and the deepest pain. We marvel that the depth of our love, our loss, and our grief. We want the grief to end and we want it never to end, all at once.

With their absence, we learn something we couldn't know while they were living. We learn just how deeply we were capable of missing them. We learn just how much pain their void in our lives could cause. We learn how willing we are to lean into that pain in order to keep them close. Though we can imagine what it will be like to lose someone we love, when it happens, we learn it was actually unimaginable. And in that gap between what we imagined and what we never could have imagined, lies a type of love we meet for the first time in our grief.

The Portuguese writer Manuel de Melo defined saudad as "a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy". Some may disagree, but I know that there has been a pleasure in the suffering of my own loss. There has been a wonder that my love could be deeper than I ever knew. There is an awe in feeling feelings that I didn't know existed, emotions that can only emerge in the vast void of loss.

This is one of those posts that either really resonates, or really doesn't. Either way, leave a comment.

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After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

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67 Comments on "The Love We Only Find In Loss"

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  1. K.C.  July 31, 2023 at 3:28 pm Reply

    My heartbreak is so palpable, my love was so deep, his love was so deep, we lived, loved, and won, but one of us still lost.

  2. Deb A.  May 23, 2023 at 9:28 am Reply

    I recently wrote this sympathy poem because I couldn’t find a card with the message I wanted to convey.

    Heartfelt Condolences

    Beyond this realm of all we know
    Exists another where souls can grow.

    A welcome space proved true by faith
    Where wings, brand new, are greeted, embraced.

    This special place of peace and calm
    Is Heaven for settlers from far and beyond.

    So, when you’re feeling sad and blue,
    (It’s okay. Of course you do.)

    Close your eyes. Reminisce.
    Bring back an image of the one you miss.

    And, when you do, you’ll smile with love
    Because that’s when you’ll feel the hug from above.

  3. Dominica Koller  March 9, 2023 at 8:48 pm Reply

    Today I typed into the search bar “It is a sad day indeed, for I have felt the death of my love”, and this article came up in my search results. I was searching for quotes that were similar or exact to the painful thought I was having at the moment and curious if another person had made the same discovery. I may not have found it word for word, but this article was exactly what I was looking for and needed to read. It was difficult for me to read the entire article because as I continued to read on it would only serve as a painful reminder of the inevitably soul-crushing concept and reality that love and loss are ever occurring until the day we are lost, only to be kept alive in the hearts of those who mourn us. Sounds like a deal with the devil made in the absence of God’s love. It hurts like hell.

  4. Aster  February 17, 2023 at 9:53 pm Reply

    This is the thing I was telling myself was nostalgia; I wondered why it felt so much like grief.

  5. Kristan Elyse  February 6, 2023 at 1:00 pm Reply

    Yearning. That is what ive been feeling. I have been trying to piece my soul back together. My mom died 4 days before this article was published.

  6. Zess  December 3, 2022 at 11:16 pm Reply

    Thank you for posting this article. What was written was all true! I never thought love could exist this late. I lost a very close friend. I thought I was hurt because we were close. I keep visit the gravesite 2-3 a week and and keep questioning myself why I keep torturing myself. I cried daily for no reason, I prayed hard for his sould and get the answer I need. Holiday season grieving is the worst, whatever I do, I go and talk reminds me of my friend and after a month. Of his passing And grieving, I just realized how much love I have for this person. A love I never thought it existed but was burried deep down my heart. It is very painful type of love. Love that only me can feel and know. It kills me inside! I never imagine this thing could possibly happened to me.

  7. Lauren  September 25, 2022 at 4:03 am Reply

    Thank you so much for this article. I never knew how deeply I loved my dear friend until his death and your post has really made sense of my feelings. My only hope is that he knew that I really did feel the same way that he did about me and that I will be reunited with him once again in heaven, when my time comes.

    Thank you

  8. Mac  April 28, 2022 at 12:06 pm Reply

    Thank you for making sense of my madness

  9. Judy  April 16, 2022 at 8:35 pm Reply

    Yes, this resonates.

    Thank you for your clear, careful writing. Holidays always make things tougher.
    I am looking forward to reading your page.


  10. Sue  March 20, 2022 at 3:08 am Reply

    Copied and pasted from article above …“We still visit and revisit our memories, knowing they hold both the deepest joy and the deepest pain. We marvel that the depth of our love, our loss, and our grief. We want the grief to end and we want it never to end, all at once. With their absence, we learn something we couldn’t know while they were living. We learn just how deeply we were capable of missing them. We learn just how much pain their void in our lives could cause. We learn how willing we are to lean into that pain in order to keep them close.”

    This is what I feel every day. I’m so afraid that if I start feeling “OK”, if my pain gets a little duller, that I won’t be honoring my daughter. I can’t explain it properly but I need the pain to feel close to her. My 30 yr old daughter passed unexpectedly from septic shock two months ago. I cry everyday. I went back to work after a month. I work in a fairly small building where I see most of the people there throughout the day. I can’t look anyone directly in the eyes anymore because I know I look like emptiness. Someone in another dept. (about my age, 63) tried to comfort me by telling me of her own loss of a son 20 yrs ago. I was sad for her and not trying to diminish her grief, but I couldn’t relate as she was 20 yrs younger at the time and subsequently had two more children. She definitely still feels the loss. She sat with me in a semi private area and I cried for my daughter. That was the only true comfort I took away from that. A moment to let go and cry. What I didn’t want / need was a pep talk telling me that crying an ocean would not change what happened, and that no one was making me sad … it was coming from me and I could find ways to control it. Excuse my French but ”no shit Sherlock “!, it’s only been 8 weeks! I felt I was being recited some therapist platitudes that I hadn’t signed up for yet. I did thank her and appreciated what she tried to be for me but I find that I only want to avoid this person now.
    My husband is supportive of how my grief overcomes me. It’s hard because we both lost a daughter and my other daughter lost a sister. I try not to cry in front of them so as not to break the threads they’re hanging onto in their souls. I’m crying.

    • Cindy  June 24, 2022 at 8:18 pm Reply

      Sue~My heart aches for you and with you. I lost my 28 yr old son in suddenly in Sept 2021. I cry every single day. I long to see him. Unfortunately, I dont have a husband anymore and my younger son lives far away.
      I ask God over and over again why He left me here alone to suffer this terrible loss. I dont guess I’ll ever get an answer. Being alone is a nightmare. I pray daily for healing or death. Certainly, God wont make me suffer in this pain forever. Its unbearable. I pray you find peace and acceptance. It seems soooo far away for me right now. 💔❤️‍🩹❤️

      • Beth  December 4, 2022 at 8:53 pm

        I am so sorry for your incredible loss. Please be gentle with yourself, deep sadness, tears, endless river of tears…normal…understandable. Grief is something you learn how to carry with you not something you get over. If you need someone to talk to or cry with there are grief support groups if you want to reach beyond your immediate family that may be an option. I took to journaling with a box of tissue and have found that helpful. Still grief overtakes me sometimes and the reason flow and my heart lays open forever changed.
        Please know that you are not alone.

  11. Simone  February 5, 2022 at 1:43 am Reply

    My husband of 22yrs died April 2020 and it still hurts like hell.I loved him so much and now it’s as if that love has doubled, if you understand what I mean. When I remember him especially those happy moments it’s like I’m floating on air.This article helped me to understand how I feel.
    Grief is love!!

    • Judy  February 5, 2022 at 7:24 am Reply

      Simone l understand your grief it was l yr in Jan and l feel worse today l think about him constantly l think l love him more each day l also love my husband more each day and think about our good times together He was so kind and loving l wish l could be with him l understand what you are going through Very painful

  12. Judy  October 17, 2021 at 9:31 am Reply

    it has been 10 months since the passing of my husband and it still feels like yesterday l shared about a letter he left me l found a notebook with poems and him telling me of his love Sometimes it makes me cry more I don’t think l will ever get over his passing l talked to him everyday Sometimes l feel l am loosing my mind This is not a duplicate

  13. Judy  October 17, 2021 at 9:30 am Reply

    it has been 10 months since the passing of my husband and it still feels like yesterday l shared about a letter he left me l found a notebook with poems and him telling me of his love Sometimes it makes me cry more I don’t think l will ever get over his passing l talked to him everyday Sometimes l feel l am loosing my mind

  14. MM  October 16, 2021 at 1:20 pm Reply

    My mum was terminal and chose to use assisted death. It was a shock to learn this. I am struggling with her lose as well as her decision. People keep saying how wonderful that she could make that choice but I only feel that she did not want to be with us anymore.
    My grief is a big hole in my road. It cannot be gotten around. I don’t know how deep it is. I don’t feel love. I only feel loss. I don’t understand. When I am not crying I am numb. There is no realization of how much more love. Just pain, and I cannot handle the pain.. so I try to ignore it, forget, run away from it, separate myself from family.
    Where is this love? Even God is silent.

  15. jane  October 9, 2021 at 3:05 am Reply

    I didn’t realise my full name would be on my comment. I am worried that my friend will read this and be hurt. I need his help. I love my new friend and am trying to earn his care.

    • Eleanor Haley  October 11, 2021 at 1:44 pm Reply

      Hey Jane, I’ve updated all your comments to just display your first name.

  16. Dan Zwicker  October 8, 2021 at 5:17 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing your incisive understanding.

    After 56 years of love with my wife, 5 wonderful children and 8 exceptional grandchildren I lost my best friend to cancer.

    Here are my conclusions:

    There is no preparation for the loss of a spouse ……no matter who you are or how disciplined you may think you are.

    Grief is the loss of love.

    What I have learned is that we each grieve very differently and a spouse grieves forever.

    Spousal grief never ends because it is not a transactional end to a lifelong relationship.

    Keep up the great work you are doing.

    Thank you.

    Kindest regards,


  17. Carol A Hellrung  October 5, 2021 at 12:22 am Reply

    My husband of 57 years died seven months ago, within six hours of falling. The shock was indescribable. The reality has sunk in that he’s not going to walk back into my life, yet I’m finding myself falling in love all over again with the wonderful person that he was. I wish so much that I would have recognized this deeper love while he was alive, to have given more hugs & kisses. I miss everything about him, especially praying together and our good night kisses. This article touched me in so many ways and helped me see where I’m at in this journey of grief. Thank you!

  18. Elaine  October 1, 2021 at 1:30 pm Reply

    I wrote in my journal, “The way I have loved her has been a revelation. The way I grieve for her is another one.” I knew this was so – now I have a better understanding about why it is.

    • Elizabeth  July 3, 2022 at 8:21 am Reply

      8.14.21 this article was posted a week after I lost the love of my life to Covid pneumonia and respiratory failure. It really does get at something closer to the truth of what this year hast felt and feels like. I have once again had to wake up with that feeling of being left adrift. One is indeed the loneliest number. My heart goes out to all of you, shattered as it is.

  19. De Schuyler  October 1, 2021 at 10:59 am Reply

    As I read this article, I gasped and broke down twice because it was so illuminating to me in explaining my love for my husband now that he is gone. I have a service dog and a buddy dog that I am caring for this week. Both dogs immediately came to me with empathic eyes to comfort me. Your website has been a major part of my grief journey and I save your articles in a folder to forward to my many widowed friends. God bless you for providing such amazing information. 🌺❤️

  20. Beth  October 1, 2021 at 2:35 am Reply

    Once again it’s 2 am… I’m up reading posts about grief. I lost my best friend, hero, music collaborator, husband of 44 years 11 weeks ago. I feel like a limb of me is gone. Such a hole. I talk to him, write to him all the time. Every step I make I want to tell him what I’ve done. We shared everything. I know he would say “I told you you could do it”. Not the point .. the joy of accomplishing huge things and not having him hold me and kiss me in celebration is devastating. Everyone says he’s with you cheering you on, proud of you…. On your left shoulder like he promised. Damn I miss his soft kiss.. his hand to hold.. his music, his wisdom, his strength… and yes I learned from the best, but tears fall easily, quickly.. and I ploughing through. A huge limb is missing every moment. I yell out PC , I did it. PC how am I doing? PC where are you? I always knew where you were for 44 years. … it’s now 2:35 am

    • Ana Carolina Pekny  October 7, 2021 at 9:54 am Reply

      I’m so, so sorry for your loss and all you’re going through. I don’t know you, but I wish I could hug you and cry with you.

    • Elizabeth  July 3, 2022 at 8:27 am Reply

      Beth, this is so understandable. I somehow pushed on and completed my PhD 6 months following losing my favorite person. It was hideous to receive the diploma in the mail and not have him to share it with. It was the key to our future. Now just another thing to gather so much dust.

  21. Marshall-AS.IS  September 29, 2021 at 1:31 am Reply

    I think that a large portion of the inability to process the proper placement of love and grief , that which leaves us here lamenting, is the idea of how something is vs how it affects you.

    What I mean is the grief that is felt cannot be compared to the love that we had / have for our lost one, with death love doesn’t circumvent. With life after death , the misconception lies in the shockwave or as my father would say , the pebble in the pond Hadi. As my father handed me a pebble to toss in the pond he taught me that everything I do will effect the things around me. Moreover the ones around me and then their effects have their own choices which changed will effect others that changes others so on so on.

    That change resulted by loosing a loved one is not a temporary thing, it’s not a straight line like the common perception of time in which seems to come from, they were here one day gone the next. The change is permanent as are all of our actions where you can not go back and re do only move forward there after with the consequences being the limitations of actions pursuable thereafter. The differences are, this action, of the death of a loved one, A) is not an action. It is something that just happened that you did nothing to cause. And B) causing an effect ourselves allows us options to “ get around” the consequences we face. When you loose a loved one there’s just no getting around that.

    I think we all too often search for understanding in a senseless mess, by attaching love and grief together. Common quotes and pictures of sandy beaches sun sets grand mountains and empty scenery all depict this concept quite well. Searching for something, looking to fill the void , where there once was now there is not. However realistically we tend to struggle with differentiating grief as a replacement of love or loved one with the ripple effect of something that just happened.

    The fact that we are physically mentally emotionally missing something must mean something should be in its place and we search and find this awful feeling of grief. Which in effect is actually just the untidy coagulation of misunderstandings of our perceptions when our perspective was identified by our loved one being part of the very essence of who we are and who we will become. Especially when the loss is that from a parent of a young child…

    Grief, I feel is better addressed as an addition to whom we will become , as opposed to something we must go through. The simple illustration of love before and after loss and the misconception in size of grief comparatively is a genius way to address my theory. That grief isn’t in place of your loved one because your love for them has not died with them and never dies. That though generally, grieving only occurs where love has been, it doesn’t mean that grief replaces love.

    Going back to the pebble in the pond, facing our losses as something that we did not cause may help this misconstruct of coping with grief. We didn’t throw the pebble in the pond , no action of ours led to this happening, all of the people, places and things will forever be affected so we find ourselves searching for a replacement to get through to where everything is not affected. Having the mindset that we are dealing with a shock wave in our pond that had no specific relation to our actions allows us the ability to take on grief as a tool or a mechanism as opposed to something unwanted that replaces the roll of our loved one.

    The concept of grief being in place of your loved one is like an unwanted magazine subscription you got for taking a survey not realizing it was a lifetime subscription and only the first year was free. That is just silly! When we address this situation from the logical perspective that grief is gained , though it is not something we ever wanted, it changes the need to cope and rationalize (or to get through our loss) to needing to adjust and move forward ( or working around our loss).

    • Jeri  November 21, 2021 at 8:31 am Reply

      “no action of ours led to this happening..” Your words have much to ponder over. The pebble in the pond analogy is one my mother and I have discussed. But, I can’t believe I couldn’t have saved my son, because I believe since we all have an effect on others, my actions too had an effect on my son’s decisions. As you point out , every action effects the next action. How then do I believe no action if mine led to this?

    • Anne  April 24, 2022 at 10:14 am Reply

      Thank you for explaining it this way. Helps me tremendously.

  22. Magdalena  September 21, 2021 at 2:08 am Reply

    Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you for putting into words what I’m feeling right now!

  23. Judy  September 13, 2021 at 4:38 pm Reply

    I am very much in the grieving. It has been 9 months and it still seems like yesterday. we had such a deep love. there are times l feel like he is in the room with me . I still do a lot of crying l miss him so much lt is such a deep pain

  24. Patti  September 12, 2021 at 11:51 pm Reply

    Beautifully written about such a beautiful yet painful longing… Such a bittersweet emotion. Thank you. I loved reading it in words.

  25. Leah Reyes  September 5, 2021 at 9:41 am Reply

    I grieve for my husband of almost 40 years. The pain is unbearable and knows no end, but still I hold on to grief just to keep his memories with me until we meet again. The intense the pain , the closer I am to him.

    • Ana Carolina Pekny  October 7, 2021 at 9:55 am Reply

      I’m so sorry for your loss and all the pain you’re going through…

  26. Cherie A Brooks  August 31, 2021 at 12:45 pm Reply

    Beautiful post.

    I have been on a long lovely journey of yearning for a long time.

  27. Janice  August 28, 2021 at 6:07 pm Reply

    So many parts of this article resonated with me. I would add that my greatest frustration is being compared to my husband for our grief. I am told that I have dealt with it better because I don’t openly weep or crumble in front of others. They have no idea what I’m like behind closed doors. It is indeed insulting to be told that I am strong and I’m getting through the grief of losing my son faster. People assume a lot about the depth of my grief.

  28. Sharon  August 28, 2021 at 4:58 pm Reply

    This article is so helpful to me. It helps to understand how I still have the gaping hole of loss, almost 9 years since my husband passed. I am filled with so much love and respect and longing for him still. I miss being in a loving relationship but as much as I hate being alone, I doubt I could ever have another love. My heart would still be longing for him.

  29. Carla  August 27, 2021 at 11:56 pm Reply

    “When someone dies, their absence becomes its own presence.” – I couldn’t have said it any better. And again, ditto on not knowing or realizing what an impact their absence is until it’s there.

    How, is really my question, in my grief now. How to move forward, how to heal, how to make it hurt less, how to help the ones grieving even more?

    There are no words. And perhaps no answers.

  30. Judy  August 26, 2021 at 10:18 pm Reply

    I just found your article l lost my husband of 60yrs 8 months ago l loved him deeply and still love him deeply. I talked to him everyday and tell him of the deep love l have for him l know l will love him deeply till the day l die. I found a letter after he passed and it said not to open till l am not here. In the letter he expressed his love for me. I will treasure that letter. I really liked the post Thank you

    • Beth  August 30, 2021 at 7:05 pm Reply

      Dear Judy, what a wonderful gift your husband gave you – a letter to read, and read, and read. His voice no doubt resonates in your mind as you read his letter to you. A very loving, thoughtful, and treasured gift.

      I’ve wanted to find a letter. I now have ambition to write a letter to my sister, my mom, each person close to me so they never wonder how important they have been in my life.

      Blessings to you Judy.


      • Shawn Goldman  September 2, 2021 at 7:55 pm

        Brilliant! What a succinct articulation of somenof the deeper aspects of intense loss that I have felt over the last few years: the yearning in the midst of the absence is with me every day. Thanks so much.

  31. Carlo  August 26, 2021 at 4:56 pm Reply

    Probably the most impactful article I have read yet.

    It is more than yearning, loss, or even love with no way of expressing the feeling. It is knowing that we all will move beyond this world, and others will be left behind with the same in-expressible feelings.

    I miss the no needing to converse in order to express myself with my loved one – and even though I can still do this, her presence is ethereal, while mine is still physical. A gap that can never be bridged. The acceptance of this, along with all the loss and emptiness that accompanies it, that is ‘saudade’.

  32. T Fuerte  August 26, 2021 at 12:53 am Reply

    The hole the death of my sister left was and is huge. I feel like I bump into sometimes trying to do something with someone else that I’d rather do with her.
    My mom died 7 years later and it didn’t create the Sam kind of hole. She was older and in poor health. She actually said repeatedly that she had lived long enough. So when my father made a point to remember mom at our next family event without mentioning my sister, I was very hurt and outraged

  33. Morgan  August 25, 2021 at 3:40 pm Reply

    This article articulates the very feeling in my throat, and combination of looking at a doorway my mamma will never grace again physically. Like cool aloe to a burn, these written words describe the feelings within my body and are some words to help describe these waves as they crash in. Beautiful, thank you. Xo.

    • Jen  August 30, 2021 at 11:21 am Reply

      Oh wow, you do the doorway thing too? I think about all the places my mother isn’t, a lot.

      • Marshall-AS.IS  September 29, 2021 at 2:54 am

        Hi Morgan and Jen, Morgan I love your analogy, about the aloe. I bet It’s no surprise that you find yourself here seeking out the comforting coolness to your pain like a mother’s healing touch , ive found myself in all sorts of crazy places and troubles snd mishaps just to find that feeling anything close to my mothers touch.

        I’m really sorry to hear your pain about the doorway. It now 22 years later occurred to me that I had not had to experience this sort of feeling of longing relating to a specific situation where she may be coming back through.

        I , in a sense was lucky. Also very screwed up growing up with severe attachment issues thanks to the brutal removal of my home my personal belongings anything that was special from my mothers while all of our stuff got gone through sorted out split apart donated sold or boxed away to be “ held onto for me when I was older”.

        A bunch of boxes of household decorations. Infuriating how they can pick and choose for you what they think should be saved for you. My Aladdin bed sheets set that my mom saved up forever for me to have and she bought it for me just shortly before she was permanently admitted in the hospital. The old horror films that we used to watch together like Freddy, Jason , killer klowns from outer space, her drawings our art supplies, some f*** ing puctures of her I mean that was the stuff that was important. Or the change jar that she gave me to start saving money in. That one day I had filled up along with her help we went to rent a movie during Christmas time. It was roudalph and I had enough to buy chocolate milk snd chocolate chip cookies. By this time she was already suffering from fatigue exhaustion and stomach issues so when I ate the box of cookies and drank the chocolate milk and had a sick tummy she really couldn’t do much to prevent it because she was so sapped of energy trying to fight off this blood infesting mutation. Or the few studies that she gave to me like my Rocco raccoon she got me for Valentine’s Day. She tricked me into thinking that she couldn’t afford anything to get me for v day. I came home and this cute little guy with a bandana over his eyes red velvet was sitting on the table with an apparently stolen bag of m&ms that this little thieving rascals raccoon had snatched and waited all day to share with just me. We came up with stories about him and snuggled up watching our favorite Freddy movies that after the credits played followed home videos of my mon and her friends skydiving.

        That’s the important stuff. I still to this day find little fulfillment and appreciation in the stuff saved for me. Give me back my Rocco raccoon and I’d be thrilled.

        I bet you guys know what it’s like hanging on to items to help cope through the loss. I held my memories and each summer when I’d come back to Florida where I’d last lived with her in the room we shared when we’d spend the night at grandma and grandpas the bed I had an accident in that caused us to be late to the airport when my mom and I lived out in ny before we moved to fl. That room made me so sad. So afraid for the first few years snd I’d stay there for weeks in the summer even months snd later in life almost a year.

        Every time I’d go back there no matter what age the first night to 7 nights minimum I’d have tears fears and nightmares. When I was a little girl still 8-15 I’d cry and cry and cry. My youngest years I would cry really loud but I didn’t know why. I knew she was gone and not going to come consol me. I didn’t even understand the words that I would need to use to communicate to my grandparents that something was wrong. That I really missed her a lot. So I’d wake up in the night scared alone faced with a grieving feeling that I didn’t have to face when I was home in ny, and I’d cry. Eventually my grandfather would come in and flip the light on asking me what’s wrong. He’d get me water he’d check the ceiling and walls snd closets for spooky tailless lizards ( which one time I swear I saw) he’d pay me on the head shut off the light and head out the now wide open door. I would sleep then, peacefully.

        About 22 years ago I lost my mom abruptly to leukemia. It was so unsuspecting. I wonder if my situation differs from your and differs from most because I wasn’t living in the place she died for long. My loss was met with a gain that at the time was really unwanted.

        My father who had been a rouge hells Angel showed up at my doorstep to claim what was rightfully his. Me. My mother spoke terrible about my father and my grandparents especially. Making it more difficult for me to process everything.
        I was Blinded at the time to the fact that my father had wanted to be part of my life as a kiddo and was chased out by my mother and her family. Making his unwanted presence that was unwanted by my grandparents and recently deceased mother my own before I had the ability to come to that conclusion myself.

        But after many many years of strange awkward discomforts I opened up and learned that the bond i share with my father is one that my mother and I had not. I was just different. It’s hard to explain but my dad had a way of reaching me when no one else could. Later on in life I felt my mom never really got me , like she didn’t know what to do with me we didn’t exactly connect.

        My mom had the love thing down though. She was comfort she was love she was snuggles she was goofy she was silly and a bit strange she was outgoing incredibly kind at times incredibly awkward but she owned it, she was fun when there was no fun around , she was warmth and comfort on a cold drizzly day, she was the static electric shock when you thought things were just mundane and predictable enough to bore you to black and white. She was my best and only friend. My security blanky

  34. Tim Lundell  August 25, 2021 at 2:40 pm Reply

    I recall so vividly the moment I held my Penelope, the love of my life for 42 years, as she took her last breath following four months of living with her terminal cancer diagnosis. We knew it was coming. I had certainty that I would be without her. But in that moment, I had no concept of the freight train of grief and sadness that was roaring down the track and hit me so hard in the weeks that followed…and that is still with me two years later. This essay explains it so clearly and accurately. Thank you so much for sharing.

  35. Jennifer  August 25, 2021 at 12:40 pm Reply

    I am just….speechless. You described something I had no words for. Beautiful. Thank you so much for this and all the help you’ve given me the past 2 years. ❤️

  36. Ramona  August 25, 2021 at 12:11 pm Reply

    I am a year and a 1/2 into my grief of losing my husband of almost 40 years I found your site in the middle of a night early on when I couldn’t breathe or sleep. It seems that every step I’ve gone through there’s a new blog post that helps me. This post is exactly where I am. Thank you so much for your insight.

  37. Lakshmi  August 25, 2021 at 11:55 am Reply

    Thank you for this article. This resonated so much with me esp. about. yearning

  38. Mary Nicholas  August 25, 2021 at 11:17 am Reply

    Thank you for this article. My first language is Portuguese and I have often had difficulty explaining to people what saudades translate into the English language. You did such a fantastic job! Yes, saudades is my often felt emotion when I yearn for my parents.

  39. Laurel Van Horn  August 25, 2021 at 10:55 am Reply

    This is so true! My husband’s death six years ago was devastating. He was quite ill and suffering the week before, and I knew for the first time in his long illness that he would leave me and not be coming home as before. As I’ve grieved for him over the years, my love for him has become more profound with every passing year. My memories of him and our life together have become deeper. I know I will yearn for him until I die, but as my love for him grows, I am comforted by his presence always in my heart. Thank for this beautiful article.

  40. Ceridwen Wiercx  August 25, 2021 at 10:32 am Reply

    Your latest “The Love We Only Find” has eased my concern that I was still tearful and longing so intensely for my late husband, passed 17 months ago. I must lose the guilt that I feel because i am unable to let go of him. Well 65 years together was a long time. We enjoyed a great life together.

  41. Alfonso Y Reynosa  August 25, 2021 at 9:55 am Reply

    Such a great article. I was floored with,

    “When someone dies, their absence becomes its own presence. We come to love and hate their void. It represents all that is gone, all that we loved, all that miss. We hate the reality it represents.”

    I walk away from this article, realizing, grief allows us to experience a love we never knew, a love we wish we would never know.

    Grief knocks the wind out of us, love breathes it back in.

    • Thorpuppy  August 29, 2021 at 5:55 pm Reply

      Thank you for this wonderful article! Absolutely what I needed at the right time. My mom passed away two months ago at 71. What I wouldn’t give for just one more day with her. I am fortunate to have had the unconditional love of my momma for my whole life. She will always live on in my heart ❤! This site has really helped me. I look forward to all the articles. God Bless all of you going through the same thing, and navigating thr rough road of grief!

  42. Jane  August 25, 2021 at 9:52 am Reply

    Thank you for your post. It has helped me gain a greater understand of the anguish I’m feeling after the recent death of my husband of 47 years. The only platitude that resonates with me is a quote from the Greek philosopher Epictetus: “What you love is nothing of your own; it has been given to you for the present.” I’m grateful for the blessing of a happy marriage, and I knew death would end it eventually, but it doesn’t mitigate the pain of its loss.

  43. Kay Zanger  August 25, 2021 at 8:55 am Reply

    Thank you for articulating what I was feeling just this morning. I still have a book my husband was reading along with his glasses on the table beside the “empty chair”. I looked at it this morning and wondered what was I doing? Am I trying to fool myself into thinking he isn’t gone? No, his things remind me that he is gone. Not finding an expression for my feelings I read them in your blog this morning. It helps knowing I’m not nuts.

  44. Nicky  August 25, 2021 at 8:16 am Reply

    Thank you for this article – everything in it resonated with me – and it put into words so well exactly what I am feeling. I lost my Mum eight months ago and I feel exactly as you describe in this article. I have had feelings of love in a way that I didn’t have before, even though I loved her so much. Grief makes you realise things you couldn’t have known when the person was still with you.

  45. Jen  August 24, 2021 at 12:00 am Reply

    I’ve been thinking about this very topic for weeks now. The awfulness/awe-fullness of my grief. The constant balancing between the two. Thank you for writing this.

  46. Logan  August 23, 2021 at 10:59 pm Reply

    Listening to the song Visiting Hours by Ed Sheeran helped me discover this website, and I am grateful it did. I am a mental health professional, and this little tool will certainly be something I share with my clients. What a wonderful message. Thank you.

  47. Maura  August 23, 2021 at 8:40 pm Reply

    I could not understand why when I entered psychotherapy to deal with childhood trauma and loss it unleashed such a powerful sense of yearning within me…yearning for the impossibility of a nurturing relationship with my therapist most of all, to replace what was permanently lost by the passage of time: the ability to be nurtured as a child by loving parents. I have wrestled with this “impossible yearning” for three years now, and it is just now starting to become less searing, less all-consuming, less grief-triggering, all while I try to go about my life as a wife and mother and educator. Thank you for shedding light on this aspect of grief…I hadn’t read anything before that so aptly described the love for the yearning, because to let go of the love for the yearning is to let go of the dream, and that is unimaginable at the beginning of one’s healing journey.

    • Carm  August 25, 2021 at 12:40 pm Reply

      I’m in a place that my yearning & grief (father, daughter, & husband) has become comfortable enough to be with much of the time but not always. My father passed when I was 19, my daughter when I was 29, and my husband when I was 53. I am 61 now and retired.

      This yearning and grief was so deep at times that in wanting the hurt to go away I’d punch a wall or slap myself to replace that pain with physical pain. No I did NOT want to die and Yes even before that I was seeing a counselor & taking medication. I still do.

      The yearnings in my life still come (& go) and vary intensity. Just over a year ago I had to rebuild the shower in the master bathroom that my husband & I both would have used. And not once did I think about the accessibility concerns (my husband was a paraplegic) that I normally would have had to were he still alive. It was an opportunity to give thanks that my yearning for him was in a comfortable enough place that those concerns did not come to mind. Which actually would have helped make a better choice for rebuilding to have the non-leaky shower I needed. And when I did think of it, I was okay with the thought even if it did come too late (to have non-leaky shower).

      I hope I make a bit of sense. Litsa & Eleanor thank you for your insightful words.

  48. Vidhi  August 23, 2021 at 12:58 am Reply

    I needed this post today. Thanks 🙂
    it resonates

  49. Janet  August 21, 2021 at 2:55 pm Reply

    I felt every bit of this. You are so point on. Thank you for putting this into words that I didn’t know how to convey.

    • Norma  August 28, 2021 at 1:55 pm Reply

      I totally relate to this. My husband died 5 years ago and I continue to yearn for him, daily. I’ve often thought and said to myself (& to him!) that he wouldn’t believe just how much I miss him. The love I felt for him in life, seems to have been superceded by that same love but intensified with this great longing for him. Yes, he was my rock and my best friend and the heartache I feel is often overwhelming! You’re locked in with it and with nowhere to go!
      Yes, the yearning certainly reveals the intense love of losing someone which you would never have realised without a great loss.
      How I wish he was here! 💔

      • jane  October 8, 2021 at 3:33 am

        I thought I had found a good friend to help me through…but not so.we are too different. My beloved husband was so much part of me. I will neverfind someone to take care of me and to fill my days with love and hugs. My husband was the better part of me. I long to die and see him again.
        I love you my Bob.


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