I once read a quote that said; “Grief is just love with no place to go.”
For some reason, since reading this quote, I find that its words often crawl over my mind when I open my eyes in the morning and when I close them at night. I think that perhaps, on some simple level, my mind is asking itself an honest question in response to this quote; where then, do I put all of this love?
Where do I put the thousands of nighttime kisses, the hundreds of Sunday morning giggles and all the countless, “I love you’s.” Where do they all go now?
Love can feel like bathing in a never-ending waterfall. It can feel indestructible, invincible and ageless. We draw on its goodness, trust in its certainty and believe in it as a limitless force in our lives. So, what happens when a person who we have connected all of those beliefs and feelings to, suddenly leaves our life?
Losing that person has the biggest impact on our lives and affects us profoundly, in ways we could never have imagined. Their immense significance reflected in the huge, person-shaped hole that is suddenly formed in our lives as a result of their loss. Losing them brings deep despair, total disconnect, and bewilderment. We suddenly feel incomplete and at a loss as to where we are meant to place all of the feelings and love we possess, now that the person they are connected to is no longer there. We grieve.
The loss I feel for my marriage is so deep that I often have to remind myself he is still alive. He hasn’t died, he has chosen to end our marriage, to end all of that love. It has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced, to come to terms with his detachment from my love and to try to live amongst the loss, the displacement and the feeling of being totally incomplete.
When someone you love ends a relationship, that doesn’t mean your feelings automatically end according to their wishes. Your love for them may still be so very strong, so very real and so very much alive.
In all honesty, there have been many times when I have prayed for the feelings I have for my husband to simply disappear. At times I have felt it would be easier, that I would rather them gone than for them to have no place to live.
It is such a painful experience.
Often, we can try and fill those gaping holes with other things, some good and some bad. Anything that will fill the void. We can quickly try to attach ourselves to others, to try and pin our love to strangers rather than let it roam unclaimed. We can try to numb the loss with drink and other things. We can become careless with our lives because we feel we have no purpose anymore because they were our purpose.
For me, I have those voids, I have that pain, I have that shadow, but I have tried to pin it all to God to help me through it. I am thankful that I have been able to do that. I am trusting that he will fill my voids, heal my wounds and flood light into the shadows. However, I am still left asking that question, where do I put all of this love?
My husband and I collected little keepsakes of our life together all throughout our relationship. Cinema tickets, theatre programmes, serviettes from fancy restaurants we visited. It was like we were breathing meaning into these items because they formed a part of our story. They were markers, mapping the footsteps of our life together. I find it really difficult to look at these keepsakes now, as I feel like ultimately they were mapping the footsteps that would lead to this point, to divorce and the end of our love.
When I look at these keepsakes and all the other markers of our life together, my mind gets confused, do I keep them? Do I get rid of them because of the pain they now cause? Where do they belong now? It can be so difficult to be surrounded by reminders of the love we shared when their meaning now seems so untethered.
I feel much the same about my love for my husband. It is still there but without the anchor it was connected to. It is untethered, it doesn’t really belong anymore. I can’t just pack it away, so I live with it, hovering over me but feeling that it doesn’t belong with me anymore.
The reality is the love I have for my husband doesn’t belong where it used to. I can’t connect it to him anymore but it doesn’t mean I have to stop loving him, to just switch that love off. It just isn’t that easy. I am not a robot that can de-programme my heart. I think I have come to understand that, perhaps, I just need to allow that love to one day, naturally find a place to live, a place that doesn’t have the power to hurt me anymore, to cause me pain or anguish.
There might always be a tiny drawer in my heart where the love I have for my husband will live and maybe that’s okay.
It was a real love and, to me at least, it was limitless. It was a love that forged who I am and an incredibly important part of my story, and I will come to honour it for those reasons. I know in time, that just like me, it will find it’s place to belong.