When Love Really Hurts
My aunt died after 5 years of battling cancer. It was a battle indeed. Her struggle was very real, especially in the last few months. The world seems too quiet without her belly laugh that could be heard in the next zip code. She was outrageously fun, spunky, and wild and lived life on her own terms. Sadly I think this contributed to her dying at 67. I did not get to her in time; she passed 2 days before I was scheduled to go spend our final time together. It feels like the rug was ripped out from under me, even though I’ve know for years it was coming. The only comfort comes in knowing that the pain is over, in that she is free of her body. But it doesn’t change the fact that love really hurts.
Dealing with Loss
My beloved 15 year old diabetic cat is entering his final days with a potential new diagnosis of cancer. Again, I’ll have to deal with loss. He is the greatest love and joy of my life. Being child free, my cat has fulfilled all of my needs as a nurturer and caregiver. He has been my shadow, my companion, my friend. My daily meditation and stretching routine will feel very lonely soon, as he joins me every morning with a sweet, gentle paw resting on me throughout the process. I have never loved anything or anyone like I’ve loved him, and the last few days have brought a near-constant state of utter anguish as I waffle between waiting until it’s clear that it’s time and searching for the strength to end it while he’s still happy and still “him”.
When love hurts, it endures. I have ugly cried almost every day of the last month dealing with loss. I have lost countless hours of sleep. I have see-sawed between binge eating comfort food that does not agree with me and feeling too sick to eat anything at all. I have pulled back altogether from friendships, errands, shaving my legs……it is all I can do to get up and get through work each day right now.
By the end of this month my cat will be gone and I will be hurt and lost. I will spend a good 3 days in bed crying dealing with the pain, and will probably look for him and call for him for weeks after that out of habit and routine. This loss will be the hardest and most painful loss I’ve encountered so far in my life–even more painful than losing my grandparents. The love of an animal is so intimate and sacred. Yet I know that I will go on. It will be agonizing and heart wrenching, and it will also have been completely worth it because of how deeply we loved one another. There is nothing unsaid between us, and I have no doubt that he will move on to become a spirit guide. He is loved, he is cared for, he has had a wonderful life with me.
Love is Worth It
My only answer was that it was worth it all. The consequence of real, true, deep love inevitably is loss. The searing pain and emptiness that follows a loved one’s departure is the evidence that it was real. If it wasn’t love it wouldn’t hurt. The pain is the thorn on the beautiful rose. How beautiful and fragrant that pain is, in that it reminds us that we were lucky enough to love and be loved in return.
We can go through life closed off so that we never get hurt. We can choose to never let anyone in. Or we can choose love, knowing that someday it will be the hardest thing to do, because we will need to say goodbye.
Love hurts but there’s beauty in the voyage
So yes, knowing that love sometimes is the hardest thing, I will do it again and again and again. I will choose it everyday, even when it hurts. The hurt will bring growth and transformation. The hurt is tremendous at the end, but such a small part of the beauty and joy of the total voyage. I’d rather go through the pain of loss at the end of a love story than close my heart and live a lonely life. Love is and can be painful, but it’s worth the ride.
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