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You Do Not Know Love

You think you know love. You do love. … Yet, you do not know love completely.

Yes, this is a bold statement. I am sure many of you are ready and willing to state why I am wrong or why you know love. Hold on to those words and keep reading. I think you will agree the depths of love are deeper than you may know.

When you were born you felt love. Someone fed you and kept you alive. Hopefully, this love was greater than bare necessities, but at a minimum, someone cared enough to get you to the point you could care for yourself. One day you meet someone who makes your heart skip. Maybe you hold hands or get a quick kiss. You think you love this person! This rarely goes far. You drift apart, possibly remaining friends and keep a level of love but it is not “love”.

Sanskrit has 96 words for love; ancient Persian has 80, Greek three, and English only one. This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have 30 words for snow, because it is a life-and-death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately. If we had a vocabulary of 30 words for love … we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart. An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love. Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to feeling.” – Robert Johnson

You begin to understand love is complicated and has multiple levels. Eventually, you may meet someone you know you love and whom you want to be with for life; a life partner. Your capacity to understand love has grown. Whether this occurs or not, you get into a situation where another life begins. You hear this heartbeat and your love for this person you have not yet met overtakes all you have known! You love this unborn child more than anything. Surely, you must now know love!  Yes, this love is real, and it is strong, but when you see this child for the first time the fireworks within you overwhelms. Surely, this must be what love is!

The unconditional love for your child surprises each new parent. The ability to be overwhelmed with a new love for a second child is also surprising. If you adopt your child the same surprising love occurs! I know this to be true for me. Love can be different. Relationships can be different. Yet the intensity and depth can be the same. It is your capacity to understand love which changes.

Your child goes through the terrible twos and you continue to love them more. Your child goes through puberty and you love them more. Your child excels and struggles and you love them more. You know you love them. I know you love them so much you would lay down your life for them and sacrifice for them. Even though all of this is true, you take this love for granted.

You do not know love completely. You love them fully. You also take love for granted even when you try to not do it. Maybe you are on an important call and they run by yelling and you say something harsh. Maybe you have worked hard all week and are watching a game and they want attention but you dismiss them. Sometimes you spend a lot of time keeping them occupied with play, friends, or sports but are not spending good one-on-one time with them. Taking love for granted means you expect the person to always be available especially without a full appreciation of their availability.  You don’t realize what is happening because you do not know what it is like to not have them, and I hope you never do.

Once your child is forever gone, you begin to understand. When a child dies and the initial shock wears off you begin to realize the love you knew did not fully express how much you loved them. Yes, you loved them completely but your heart could not understand the depth of the love. You knew you loved them through bad times but now you are in the worst time possible and you know what love is even more.

Please realize people handle grief differently in similar situations and though you do not see everyone grieving how you may expect, they go through it their way. Grief reflects love but how one grieves does not reflect how much they love. Grief over death is a natural response to the love one has. When someone dies the love does not diminish. When you push someone to get over a loss, you are pushing them to change their response to love. If you come to realize how in the loss they have not lost the love, you then should realize the problem, especially when it is their child. Grief is love with no way to express it to the loved one. Many parents blame their self for not helping, curing, protecting their child. This mixture of intense love, missing the person, and self-blame complicates life. 

When people attempt to encourage parents to be “healed” and “move on”, they are pushing them to suppress this love. I want the pain to go away more than anyone but the love and memories cause the pain and I want the memories. I do not want to deny my love. Yes, I have other reasons to keep moving. I have a surprising amount of love to give to my wife and daughter who needs me now more than ever. I also am now aware how much deeper my love is for them than I knew before.

Published inGriefParenting

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