My sophomore year at Weber State University has ended and while I have a lot to reflect on, that will (mostly) be for another post. Today I want to impart a story that was told to me by one of my professors, I believe about a week ago. This professor was teaching human development, but his own research and dissertation focuses on the effects of young widowhood. I don’t know what the cutoff for “young” is, but suffice it to say it’s before the general thoughts of when becoming a widow is typical. He worked with people from 18 all the way up to I would guess their early 40s. One particular widow was speaking to him about the effects of losing her husband. I’m going to have to paraphrase his paraphrasing, but somewhere along the line she said something like “I wish everyone could hurt like I do.” He questioned her about what she meant, and she responded, “I wish everyone could love so much that they would hurt like this.” I can’t put it as eloquently as I was told she said it, but the point of the matter still stands. Her words, through my professor, struck me. She didn’t view her grief as bad necessarily, but more as proof of her love for her husband. We have an aversion to grief and the acts of mourning; we just want it to be over and never return. But she actually seemed to welcome it and hoped everyone would love someone so much they’d be able to feel her pain. It’s really quite inspiring, isn’t it? Not loving safely? Love with all your heart without fear of the pain? I think so.
Recently I’ve been having really strange dreams, many of them about my family and friends. Unfortunately for them, they die a lot in these dreams, but the grief in the dreams is tangible. One night in particular was so bad the dream actually carried over into real life. I had dreamt my mom and dad committed suicide (I think on my birthday) and I had people coming over to celebrate, but all I did was shriek and cry. I remember distinctly walking around, standing on the sidewalk, approaching people and just screaming and crying bloody murder because I was so overwhelmed with grief and I just wanted someone to help me; nobody did. At some point, I woke up and I was still feeling a deep sadness and my face was wet, still producing tears. I had to calm myself down and realize it was only a dream, but it certainly clarified what I think will happen if/when I lose my parents, hopefully not to suicide or anytime soon. There are plenty more dreams that feature family and friends with less than happy endings, but that one stands out the most.
My point in sharing those two stories ties back into the end of school. I am the absolute worst at goodbyes and endings. I can’t handle them. Even when I know I’ll see someone again, some part of me can’t deal with the fact that it’s going to be a while. Really, I have it easy because none of my truly beloved ones have died yet and others have lost much more than me or live much farther away from friends and family than me. Even still, this end of the school year marks just another occasion where I have to say goodbye to my friends for three and a half months. I’ll miss them greatly, but I won’t have the luxury of going home to live with my family and see my old friends for the summer. I’m staying in Utah. Admittedly, not everyone is leaving and I’m grateful for those who will be here over the summer with me. It hurts me to think, though, that I am having to say goodbye to some and not being able to say hello to others. While I’m not saying my grief is the same as a widow’s, it’s similar to me. I use the story of the widow to assure me that the pain I feel is a good thing. The pain is proof to me I care about those around me and whatever relationship I have with those people is authentic and treasured. My personal relationships, however miniscule, mean the world to me and I believe I’ve given many people small pieces of my heart. The hurt is real, but so is the relationship, and I can rest easy knowing that.
I want to challenge myself and those of you who read this to love without fear of pain or rejection. Beyond your significant relationships, love your friends, your co-workers, your bosses, children, professors, etc. like they won’t disappoint you. I want to live my life authentically and true to myself. So often we don’t say what we want to say or approach who we want to approach because we don’t want them to hurt us. Hurt is only there to prove to you what you feel is real, and if it’s real, it’s worth being hurt over! Love until it hurts and it becomes impossible to not be hurt, because that’s real. That’s what life is about. Don’t be afraid of being hurt, be afraid of never having loved enough to grieve.