One of the biggest fears people have is of dying alone. People often enter into relationships with little else as a motivation to be in a relationship other than the idea of not being alone when old, sick and certainly when dying. Of course, there is no guarantee that such company will be there at the time of sickness and death, but the hope of such company is enough for people to take the long leap into relationships even without love and all the other things that one typically looks for, and in any case, as any cynic will tell you, the tragic truth is that in any relationship, chances are that one of the partners will just not get to enjoy that companionship at death, having to outlive the others.
The life of the survivor in any relationship, especially one that had much love in it, is something quite different than one expects. Grief is a painful thing to live with. It makes itself felt in a million ways, many of them totally unexpected, and yet, all of them correct and valid at that time. There is no wrong way to grieve.
Love lost to death hits us in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. You might just be driving a car to work, park just as always in your usual spot, and something might just crush you back into that dark abyss of grief as if it were just yesterday that you lost your love to grief. You might be laughing with someone, even flirting, trying to make something happen and you might find yourself back in grief. There is no telling quite how or when grief finds itself back in the moment, back in your reality.
The idea of "moving on" is not about being done with grief or forgetting about the person lost as much as it is about making space in your life for yourself and maybe some new people in it that can bring you different and wholly new meaning in how you relate and even love. For many, acts of love itself can be a gateway into grief that has been denied, and being in a moment of great tenderness and love can bring forth a geyser of grief where one might find oneself weeping and sobbing for what was lost.
Grief is a theme that many people in relationships visit with their beloved, often as expressed wishes to be the first to go. Sometimes, people even fight over it in that tender way, wanting the right to die before their partner. Yet, in love, one might also find oneself wanting to outlive the beloved, just to spare the pain of the bereavement to their beloved believing oneself to be hardier to that pain.
We may choose to ignore loss and grief, leaving it to the vagaries of fate, or we can choose to engage with it, talking about it with tenderness and affection, even making plans for it. To love fully is to love in death as well.
As written for The New Indian Express
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.