Recently a friend told me this story:
She was walking down a dark street with a girlfriend, talking about romantic love. And she said I don’t understand the “falling” part of falling in love – for me it’s gradual, like an orchid opening. And her friend said, for me it’s a fairytale we were sold in our youth.
And as they walked further into the darkness, they saw two large figures in the shadows and were frightened. They grabbed each other but decided to keep walking, and as they got closer – they saw in the middle of the road a large horse – he must have jumped the fence, and next to that horse was another large horse.
Eight eyes locked into the mystery that night – and then the horses quickly turned and galloped away, their hooves echoing on the tar as they turned the bend in the road and were out of sight.
The metaphor wasn’t lost on the women – the two horses were galloping toward the edge of a cliff in the middle of the night, wild and free from the confines of their fenced-in pasture.
Falling into Love and Grief
“Falling” in love and “falling” out of love implies a crash of some sort – and it’s true. There is an incredible, elated joy in loving someone. And yet the more we love, the harder we fall when the inevitable happens. People we love will die some day or they may break up with us, or we may break up with them – an inevitable grief follows love. Yet we risk that grief, over and over – because we have no choice but to love each other.
Who can say “I don’t want to love?” or “I don’t want to be loved?” If any of us thought about the end of love, we wouldn’t dare risk our hearts.
I love this quote by Sam Keen –
“In the depths of our being, in body, mind, and spirit, we know we are created to love and be loved. Fulfilling this imperative, responding to this vocation, is the central meaning of our life.”
Valentine’s Day is for Everyone
Valentine’s Day seems designed to celebrate romantic love, but ancient Greeks had at least eight different words for love (love of child – Storge, playful love – Ludus, sexual love – Eros and longstanding love –Pragma).
Honoring love means honoring all the relationships that include – parent and child, friends, animals, partner and even love of self.
In the month of Love, it’s a great time to show appreciation for those people in your life who love and support you. If we are only preoccupied with romantic love, we risk losing out on all the other types of love that are equally nourishing, fulfilling and healing.
Write the unexpected Valentine
The art of letter writing seems to have fallen away in this era of texting, email and social media messaging. I have put together an easy writing exercise to help you write a fantastic love letter. And after you write it, I encourage you to hand write it on paper or inside a card, and surprise someone by mailing it or placing it inside a mailbox.
You can write to anyone you love – a child, a friend, or to someone who is no longer alive but with whom you still share continuing bonds of love.
Grief Stories are Love Stories
I am just finishing teaching my first Grief Stories workshop with Laura Lentz and the experience of working with nine writers has been heart opening and profound. On the second week of the class, one of the writers said “I think we are all falling in love with each other”. And it’s true – sharing our vulnerable grief stories is a healing and transformative experience. Love comes when we are able to be the most truthful and vulnerable and witness the truth and vulnerability of another.
Teaching this class reminded me why I write about the continuing bonds of love. Death is not an end to love – we learn to love the person we have lost in a different way. Ending a love relationship doesn’t mean we stop loving that person. Playwright Robert Anderson said,
“Death ends a life…not a relationship.”
I’m so excited to teach this course again starting March 11th, and if you are ready to write your Grief Story, here is more information.
Links to Love
Buying a book about love is a wonderful Valentine’s Day present. My favorite list is Books you Should Give Your Valentine
If you are looking for a romantic love poems to send that are surprising, Slate magazines’ writers and editors shared their favorite Valentine’s Day love poems in “Page 112 – It Reminded Me of You”.
I wish for all of you a loving and beautiful February, while we all look forward to winter leaving and a new spring emerging. I leave you with the last line of a Philip Larkin poem –
“In the end, what will survive of us is love.”
Did you know my book is not only available in print, but also in Kindle and audiobook?
It’s also a wonderful gift for anyone in your life who is grieving and for those who want to help.
A NEW, free, 5-part video series about grief and healing with Debbie Augenthaler.
Words of Comfort is a free, five part video series I’m offering to help anyone who is grieving.
In it, I share some of the insights and things I’ve learned both as a griever and as a psychotherapist who’s worked with many grieving people. I hope this series brings you the comfort of knowing that you are not alone.
Debbie Augenthaler, LMHC, NCC, is an author and psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, where she specializes in trauma, grief and loss. Her award-winning book, You Are Not Alone: A Heartfelt Guide for Grief, Healing, and Hope combines her personal story of devastating loss with practical insights and simple suggestions for healing. Join her Facebook community, Grief to Gratitude, and follow her on Instagram.