Monday, October 18, 2010

Is It Better to Have Loved and Lost?


by Kate Collins

As I struggle through my maze of grief, trying to make sense of the new life thrust upon me, my children are not only dealing with their own grief, but also are having serious doubts about relationships. Of the five children my husband and I have between us, three are young adults, never married, still looking for THE ONE.

Only now, maybe not so much. Both my children and step-children have witnessed marriages that didn’t work, followed by a marriage that was almost too good to be true, that rare combination of two people who were perfectly suited and incredibly happy to be together. What they are seeing now is the pain of that one person left behind, and they are wondering, is it worth it?

Several months before my husband died, he said to me, “Sometimes I regret falling in love with you, because now I have so much to lose that I don’t think I could bear it.” I understand now what he meant. But if I had a do-over, would I not marry him? No way.

Do I tell our children that it’s worth this horrible pain? I’m not really handling it all that well myself. What advice would you give them based on your experiences? Do you think it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?

24 comments:

Linda McDonald said...

I do feel it is better to love and lost than to never have loved at all. My first love was when I was 18. He had been a friend in high school, and after graduation our group of friends still hung out a lot. By the first year of college, he and I had fallen in love. This was the first serious relationship for both of us. Thinking back on it now brings back so many sweet memories of all the "firsts" we experienced together. And though we were young, I truly thought we would be together for life, get married, kids, pets, house. When we were 20, he was diagnosed with cancer. The month was February when he got the news, and by May he died. It was that quick. We spent our last months together at the hospital. I was with him, holding his hand when he died. My first love was gone. I was 20, and I think that after a while people assumed that I would move on with my life and that I was okay. But, I wasn't okay for a long time. Sure, I went on with my day to day activities and all, but I missed him so much. But, did I regret the relationship even though I was in so much pain? Heck no. Five years after he died, I started dating the 2nd love of my life. He and I have been married for 11 years now. He is quite a bit older than me. Chances are, I will go through what I went through with my first love all over again. Chances are I will be hit with the pain of a loss of love, but will I regret loving and marrying my husband? No way.

I still think of my first love...he will always be a part of my life. I think back of all the memories we made during the few short years we had together and I know that those times helped shape me into who I am. Made me realize at an early age that a long life is not certain for everyone. It makes me thankful for the love I have now, and makes me really cherish the moments that we have together.

I love both of these men. I can't imagine not having had both of them in my life because I was fearful it would end and I would be in pain because of it. Everything ends. Life can be very painful. But, to me, it would be more painful to not allow love (great, romantic/deep love) into your life.

Love and prayers to you and your family Kate.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I've been incredible lucky in my life - my husband and I have been married for 41 years. But I ran into a similar question on a much smaller scale last week when our dog died. I was grieving and a friend asked why we keep getting dogs when we know they're just going to die on us. I told her the pain of losing them does not erase the joy they bring us while we have them. I think that is true of all lost loves. I hope it is.

My deepest sympathies on your loss, Kate.

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi Kate. I'm always thinking of you. My DH and I also have a blended family. Our relationship is strong and also "too good to be true." I always say that I definitely don't deserve my DH. Our children~four boys~also get to see a wonderful marriage and love between two people. I'm glad they do have the chance to see what true love is and to strive to find that love. I do believe in love and the feeling/outcome you get from finding that love completely out-weighs not ever having it.

Laineshots said...

The thing is, you never get to know in advance whether you're going to lose that love or get to keep it for many years. So when you meet a person - or an animal - and click, and simply fall in love, are you willing to push that love away, resist its powerful pull, refuse its life-changing, soul-satisfying, empowering joys because you just might lose it someday?

I don't think so. I can't help but allow love to come in, and always be glad I did, for however long I get to keep it.

Rural View said...

If you never allow someone into your heart as completely as you and your husband did, you deny yourself (and him) such joy, such wonderful memories, and such happiness to pass on to others that it must be wrong. Giving of yourself is always dangerous, but isn't it better than never knowing the true happiness of sharing life with someone you love?

Karen in Ohio said...

Kate, I just finished your latest book, and enjoyed it thoroughly, thank you.

Please accept my condolences for the loss of your dear husband. It's a terrible time for you, but I hope you know all your many fans are mourning with you and for you.

My mother remarried for the third time in 1999. She was 69, and her third husband was 80. My first stepdad and she had been married for 20 years, and they'd had a lovely life together, although Mother had nursed him through the illness he eventually succumbed to. Family members were adamant that she not remarry, in particular someone so much older.

I had a different view of it. My feeling was that even one day of happiness together was worth going for, even if the chances of illness or death were so high. They ended up having a lovely life together for a couple of years before he became too ill to do much more than exist. But I know my mother would not have traded those few years with him for anything.

Peace, to you, and to your family. Love is always "worth it".

Candace said...

Kate, dear Kate..You ask what advice I would give to your children? I would tenderly remind them that their dad/step dad passed suddenly and with little to no warning at a time when you and your husband's whole world was going right..book launch, great court case, great love and affection between you. This loss must be grieved, remembering that faith, hope and the belief that love is a precious thing brought you two together in the first place! Faith is the assurance of what we hope for. You and your beloved had not lost hope even though the first marriage didn't work. Hope did not leave you disappointed. Instead, you were both open to a new beginning. So, as your children grieve, reminding them that God is faithful and hope doesn't disappoint, they can trust that the great example of love their dad/step dad left for them is something they can hold on to. "..These three remain-faith, hope and love- and the greatest of these is love."

Anonymous said...

I am not a great writer so I will just say that yes it is much better to have loved and lost than not to love at all.

Not all love is the greatest love but it is still love. Your children and step-children may never find the love you had with thier Father/ Step-Father but they can and should love to their best.

It is so much better than forever wondering what may/could have been.

Kate Collins said...

It's so hard to read your comments without crying, but know that they are deeply appreciated. Linda, sharing your painful loss of your first love touched me so much. I am going to share all of your comments with our children.

My daughter is having the worst time right now, saying she just doesn't want to risk the pain, so I'm hoping these stories and advice will help her see that loving someone with your whole being is worth everything.

Losing my soulmate put life into a new perspective for me. My career will keep me going, give me a purpose, but nothing is as important as family and friends.

As my husband used to tell me, "No one ever said on their death bed, 'Gee, I wish I'd spent one more day at the office.'"

Leann Sweeney said...

You and yours are experiencing the grieving process in all its shapes and forms and pain. It is so good that they are speaking, asking questions about life, wondering. When the pain eases, when that special person comes along, the answers will be more clear. Right now, I think they are doing exactly what they should. They are smart enough to see that life can hurt you beyond belief, but happiness is there for the taking, too. Just not right now.

Anonymous said...

My uncle recently lost his wife of 45 years after a short and sudden bout with bone cancer that had spread by the time they found it. He cried the day she was diagnosed, the day they gave her the grim prognosis, and the day she passed .... but not at her funeral. Everyone kept asking how he could be so happy on such a terrible day ... his reply was "Being miserable and sad won't bring her back ... but being happy and rejoicing in who she was, and the life we had keeps her alive in my mind and my heart." They were never lucky enough to be blessed with children but I wish he had, it might make his time without her easier, as he gets older and starts to forget things. But in answer to your question Kate, yes I believe its better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. To your children I would say ... keep looking, and be open to all possibilities.

My condolences to all of you .. you are still in my prayers!

Merry Lu said...

Kate, I remember having those same thoughts when my mother died 12 years ago. It was so heart breaking, I couldn't imagine putting myself in the position where I would lose someone and hurt that way again. It's a part of the grieving process I had not heard about before, but since then I hear it so often. The pain is heart wrenching, but as it eases we remember the joy of loving, which is greater than any heartbreak. ((((((HUGS)))))) to you and your children.

Suzanne Arruda said...

To never love or attempt to love is to stagnate within, to become self-absorbed. Even someone who never found "the one" and stayed single needs to love a parent, a sibling, a friend. And in all of those cases, you risk loss at some time. I look at this from a religious standpoint. I read that "God is Love" and the we are made in His image and likeness. That is, we are called to love, compelled to love.

Mandy said...

There is a time and a season for everything and just as there is a time to love there will always be a time to grieve. We were made to love and enjoy the companionship that comes with. Loving someone makes you vulnerable, but I can't imagine a life without loving my husband and children...even if it means one day I could be left to pick up the pieces of a shattered heart.

Vickie said...

{{HUGS}} Loving someone, especially your best friend, is something that is a joyous part of life. When we lose them, we still have the wonderful memories our time with them.
To not even try to be with someone for fear that we will lose them one day is to stop living ourselves.

Mason Canyon said...

Yes, it's better to have loved and lose than to have never loved. By not loving, you miss so much. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Maggie Sefton said...

Dear, dear Kate---Yes,yes, a thousand times, yes. You were so fortunate to have had a love like that in your life. Blessings, Kate.

Kate Collins said...

Thanks, friends. Right now, the pain just feels too raw. I know I'll get through it in time because all of you say it will get better, and I'm holding onto that. Thanks for your hugs and wishes. I'm trying to be strong for the kids.

Lindy said...

Kate, I wrote to you right after you posted your note, but some how mine didn't get posted. I want you to know I care about you and your loss. It's hard to tell you the pain never goes away, but the good news is that in time you learn how to live with it. I am confident in that time you will cherish every moment you had with him and the qustion of whether it is is best to have loved will be answered clearly in the affirmative. Now is not the time, though, to think about that. Now is the time to grieve, and you must do it in your own way. I cried for a whole year, keeping the tissue companies in business. I had to keep working and I had to keep living, but amazingly, I did the best work of my career during that time. I expect you will write your best book ever. And, you can tell your children I didn't get married until I was 48--I held out for the right one. It was worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

Aww, it sure sounds like it was worth it. You are lucky to have loved so much! Praying for you.

Suzanne

Kate Collins said...

Lindy

I'm so sorry to hear you went through the same loss. Right now, my pain so raw, I can't think straight. It's comforting to know that one day I'll be able to remember the wonderful times without grieving so unbelievably hard. That seems a long way off. I hope I'll be able to write the best book yet, in tribute to my husband, my best fan ever. Thank you for your kind words. I'm sorry your first post got lost.

Aimee said...

Kate,
I wish I had the magic words. When my mother died suddenly in 2001, I was adrift. The only words of solace I remember were from a work friend who just said, "I heard about your mom ... that sucks."

Some people thought it was inappropriate to say that but it felt so honest and real. He didn't have the right words. All he had was this sense that it was wrong and unfair and that it sucked. It made me feel less alone. Like there was at least one person who understood how ANGRY I was when it felt completely not okay to be ANGRY!

So, in answer to your question, yes, tell them that it's worth it. They already know that it's worth it because they saw it.

Say, "This sucks! But one day when I wake up this won't hurt so bad I can't breathe and then later it'll be a dull ache and then even later it will be an even duller ache but I will never stop feeling the love we had and the joy he brought to me and that is worth all the pain and more.

Linda Cowan - Valparaiso said...

yes I think it is better to have the good experiences that you had, and you have memories, even though right now it is so painful, they say it gets easier as you adjust...

my deepest condolences to you Kate

Kate Collins said...

Thank you, Linda. I have to take each day, hour by hour, but I do have such sweet, dear memories that will never leave me.

Aimee, I understand about the anger, and truly, IT SUCKS is a really good way to describe it. I almost feel better hearing it, because it is so true.