Grief is Love with Nowhere to Go

By: Claire Thompson

I would generally agree that assumptions are bad things to make, but I think a fair assumption is that over the last about two years we have all had our (un)fair share of grief. There is the obvious collective grief we all share with a pandemic, losing loved ones, missed, postponed or rescheduled weddings, baby showers, graduations, proms, and birthday parties, many of which have still yet to happen. There is also a collective grief that we all know that this is not how things should be. And still on top of that, all the regular grief too; people get sick, people get dumped, friendships fall apart. This shit is hard.

I have spent so much of the last two years searching and searching for the silver lining and in the wake of some of the greatest grief of my life, the passing of a childhood friend, one is starting to become clear to me: grief is a beautiful thing. Grief is proof that there was love in the first place.

This is not obvious, particularly in the midst of grieving. It is not easy, and not a task most want to take on, to look for the love in the anger, the bargaining, the denial and isolation, the depression or even the acceptance, but in its most fundamental form that's what it is, love.

This first time I had considered this was when I read this quote by Jamie Anderson:

“It's all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

Grief is love you want to give, but can’t anymore, because they are gone. Grief too is not just for dead people, but for any type of loss, and by this definition, any place that there was ever love but the love cannot go anymore. Grief is love that you still have, that will never go away. The work then is to find out where to put it. This though, is not an easy task either, and it is a double edged sword at that. It seems that the more love you give while they’re here with you, the more unspent love there will one day be. Certainly the answer is not to love the ones who are here less, but to find good places to put all the unspent love when they are gone. So maybe the grief never gets easier, but rather the pain gets more manageable because you get better at finding ways to spend and honor the unspent love that you still have.

So the best I have to offer, in the midst of my own grief, still, is to go spend some love. Hug your friends, give your parents a call, send a postcard.

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