Before death, there is love. No matter how old you were, you were loved. Before death, people show love the way love looks like in the movies. It’s freedom, full of laughs, and fun.
Just as a love story unfolds in a movie, you start to see how happy endings can be true. You start to see how it’s a possibility to plan a future, career, house, kids and it’s with a love that could surpass a Nicholas Sparks novel.
And then, the plot twist that “couldn’t happen to you” happens. Before you know it, the slate is wiped clean and you’re standing at a funeral wondering how in the hell you’re about to move on. How in the hell do you pull yourself together to live the life you planned with someone? The life that was supposed to have a partner standing next to you. You start to wonder if love is even worth the heartache or if life will be easier if you avoid love again.
You’re moving on and you’re holding yourself back at the same time. Holding onto something that will never be accessible again. You think if you block yourself off from that feeling again that maybe life can be normal. You think you can avoid the feeling of getting hurt again. Avoid feeling lost or like you’ve lost control of your life.
Vulnerability is one of the most intimidating feelings a person needs to overcome as we learn to love again. It’s letting someone see the hurt you’ve felt over the years. It’s letting someone try to understand where you’re coming from when you use the excuse, “I don’t date.” Letting them understand why you are so adamant to “be independent.” It’s letting them see that you are completely terrified of losing control. It’s letting them realize you’re not damaged, but you are protecting your heart.
We all have our secrets, our mistakes, our hopes, our dreams. So often, we’re scared to share them with the people in our lives.
We’re scared to admit our fears because they seem small when you hear them out loud. We’re scared to admit our dreams because we don’t want to seem ridiculous. We’re scared to admit our mistakes because we’re embarrassed by the consequences we’ve had to overcome. And most importantly, we’re scared to lose the people we’ve shared these things with.
Losing a partner at any age can’t be easy. But losing a partner you had just started to plan a life with is devastating. You start to live by “what if” instead of “remember when?” You start to question if the plans you made are still what you want because it won’t be the same without your partner in crime. You start to question if you’re on the right path in general.
For some, this is the hardest part. For some the hardest part is realizing that you are on the exact path you are supposed to be and the person you thought was supposed to be with you is gone. You’ve lost a crucial part of the adventure. You might even feel you’ve lost the adventure entirely.
I was once told, “The ultimate sacrifice is not dying, the ultimate sacrifice is dishonoring those who have passed too soon by not living a life they deserved.” Letting go of the adventure they wanted to live. Letting go of the opportunity to live and the willingness to love.
To those of you who think love will not come again, close your eyes, take a deep breath and exhale. Let go of the negativity and the fear. Hold onto the love you once had, appreciate the memories and then:
Take some time for yourself.
Understand who you are and what you like to do for you. What do you like to do for fun? What do you want to accomplish for you? What is your dream? How will you get there? If you need to take a journey and hike the Pacific Northwest Trail, do it.
Set a goal.
If you’ve got a mission you’ve got a reason to move forward. You’ve got a reason to believe in yourself and an opportunity to challenge yourself. Lose weight? Travel more? Budget better? Wake up early? Make your bed? Eat more ice cream? Get a dog? Find something you’re passionate about or something that brings you joy.
Take a trip.
It’s a great reminder to expand your horizons. Learn another language, see another culture. Live in the moment in a place you haven’t experienced. Don’t want to travel alone? Bring a friend; but make sure it’s a friend that will take an endless amount of adventures with you.
Keep a journal.
Write your feelings out. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s needed.
Tell someone how you feel.
It’s ok to be mad. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to be confused. Talk to someone about the feelings that are going on in your head because you need to know that you are not crazy. In fact, you’re probably handling the situation better than you think you are.
Learn to love again.
If the person you said goodbye to loved you. He or she wants you to experience joy and happiness with someone else when you’re ready. This doesn’t mean you have to listen to your parents when they try to set you up on blind dates or download dating apps; it means you have to learn to be vulnerable with someone else again.
You’ve got to learn to trust the process of letting someone understand you. Your fears. Your self-doubts. Your passion. Your dreams. Your past and your future. Even though your future may not have the person you were expecting, the person you were expecting would want you to have a future with the unexpected; full of adventure, love, and laughs.
Ultimately, the decision is yours, will you dwell on “what if?” Or will you embrace a life full of “remember when?”