Posted by: Norm | April 18, 2013

The Grief of Love Long Lost

I write a monthly article for our magazine at Valencia Lea.  Owing to my work for the last twenty years and the numerous grief support groups I’ve facilitated over the years, the articles appear under the heading, The Grief Journey.  This month’s article deals with a topic not often discussed in grief groups but is, nonetheless, sentient for many people in the midst of the process of grief.


 black and white sadness photo: lonely-missing-you-black-and-white-photography-2-lindos-black-and-white-black-white-sadness-sad-czarno-biac581e-sad-beauty-nikki-images-w-1 lonely-missing-you-black-and-white-photography-2-lindos-black-and-white-black-white-sadness-sad-czarno-biac581e-sad-beauty-nikki-images-w-2.jpg

What if the grief doesn’t come?  What if the tears are few and, instead, there is only a general relief that it’s all over?

Not every marriage is a happy one, even if it lasted multiple decades.  Not everyone loses the love of their life at death.  The passion ended somewhere near the beginning.  Respect, love or tenderness departed.  The weaker of the two spouses gave in and gave up to keep peace in the home.

Life was lived like in an oyster.  The grain of sand irritated, so you protected yourself with insulation.  This defensive reaction placed a barrier between you and the chronic irritation.

When the spouse died, not much changed because the choice to retract and insulate was made years ago.  Logically then, grief doesn’t look like it does in so many other spouseless homes.

Let me assure you, you are not doing grief wrong.  Your reaction to the present death is simply a continuation of choices long-since made.  The grief you think you should be feeling, was observed when the expectations of your marriage were doused in the far distant past.

When the spouse dies it’s an event like the breaking open of an oyster.  It’s recognition of the wreckage of a marriage long ago. “Insulate.  Insulate,” you said.  You chose to protect yourself from the pain or loss of what you hoped a marriage would be.

So, does this leave you bereft, staring into an empty future?

Miraculously, there is lying within you a pearl.  And it’s now up to you to discover that pearl and use it to seek a new life.  What will you discover there:  patience, kindness, hope, freedom, peace, self-control, faith?  What have the years taught you on which you can build the life you wish?



  1. Did a funeral recently for a lady who fit your description. Sad but glad.

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