Is grief really the “price of love”?
Posted on 11th April 2019 at 14:17
There have been many positive developments in recent years in the dialogue people are having about grief. This is an improvement from earlier times when grief was only discussed in private or not at all.
The increase in discussion around the topic unfortunately does not mean that misinformation surrounding grief ceases to exist. In fact, the wealth of information at our fingertips and the speed at which material is shared on the internet mean that misinformation tends to spread more quickly than ever before.
Since this can contribute to the isolation of grievers and eventually lead to unresolved grief, we think it is important to continue spreading awareness of the myths surrounding loss and bereavement.
One of the popular sentiments on social media recently has been the notion that “grief is the price of love”. As beautiful as this statement is, especially to those who are grieving the loss of a beloved friend, partner or family member, it’s important to take a closer look.
What is 'grief'?
As a basis for discussion it is important to define grief. We consider grief to be the normal and natural response to a loss of any kind, or the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviour.
When a routine or a relationship changes, it creates emotional energy within us. When someone says something hurtful to us, it creates emotional energy as well. When someone leaves – even if they were our least favourite colleague at work – there are things we wish could have been different or better about the relationship. There may be things we need to apologise for or wish we could have said.
To say that grief is the price of love implies that grief is specific to loving relationships. It is indeed a beautiful way to describe the feeling of reaching out for someone who was always there for us, but now is gone. Many people find this comforting. However people experience grief in all sorts of situations – when moving house, for example, or after losing a job. We can experience grief after a traumatic experience or even when a famous celebrity passes away – perhaps not at the same intensity as when someone close to us dies, but grief nonetheless.
Grief is not exclusive to love
We usually do not think of a job, a house, or a trauma in terms of love. Indeed – those of us who have ever suffered from prolonged abuse, suffered losses in a military conflict or have survived a physical attack would not speak of love in regards to those losses. Yet it is extremely important that these individuals acknowledge their grief, seek help for it, and find relief for the loss of trust, security and freedom that have occurred.
When we form a loving bond with another person, we make ourselves vulnerable. If illness, death or separation occur, we will most certainly encounter grief. This grief is not only normal and natural, it is considered by many to be the “price of love”. However defining grief this way is not always helpful to those of us grieving the end of a painful, non-loving relationship, the end of a career, or one of the dozens of other losses that can occur in life.
How long does one 'pay the price'?
This phrase also implies that, because it is the price we pay at the end of a loving relationship, that we must continue to pay this price indefinitely (maybe even forever?) after the loss has occurred. When we forge a new relationship, the intention is surely not to suffer for years and decades once it ends.
While pain is completely normal following a loss, experiencing acute pain for the rest of our lives does not need to be a requirement or a measurement of our love.
In fact, when you take action to alleviate some of the pain, you create more space for loving memories, new ways to remember your loved one, meaningful purpose following the bereavement and new opportunities to find happiness again.
We would never want to make anyone feel bad for finding comfort in the phrase "grief is the price of love". If it helps you feel better, by all means, please continue to use it.
It is, however, important for us to continue having discussions about grief and reminding each other that it is a normal part of life. It is also important for you to know that grief does not have to last forever, and it is not your obligation to suffer indefinitely. Time alone does not heal a broken heart.
Grief is unique to everyone. Whatever your grief experience has been thus far, we hope that you find comfort and recovery in a way that is meaningful to you.
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