“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson
I hate this quote. Correction: I hated this quote. I hated it before I loved and lost. I never understood how it was easier to have loved, to fully live and breathe that feeling and to lose it, than not to have experienced love at all. To me, never having loved seemed like a joy compared to having lost love. After all, what could possibly feel worse than having your greatest joy ripped away from you?
My perception of this quote was that its focus was romantic love. It seemed Tennyson had just suffered a pretty devastating break-up. But the English major in me was left curious, and I did a little digging. Apparently, the quote comes from Tennyson’s own grief after a friend of his passed away while abroad.
Losing love, or rather living in grief, isn’t a walk in the park. Hence my original perception that having not loved at all seemed like a pretty incredible alternative to facing the pain of losing something incredibly fulfilling and joyful.
I think there isn’t a person on this earth who isn’t facing grief, especially losing someone who was such an incredible part of their lives. Maybe it was a parent who truly guided you on your way; A sibling who was a best friend and always had your back; A best friend who gave your life some of its best memories; A child who was the greatest gift of your life.
As I walk through the depths of grief, and recent weeks have been harder than most, I’ve realized there is more to leave me grateful than not. When I feel grateful at the end of the day, it helps me still find the beauty in life. I have some incredible friends who are reminders of the amazing support I have. I have family who have been understanding with me when I’m not my typical self. But what I’m most grateful for is the friend I have lost. When I say “lost” it is in physical form only. While the loss is excruciating, the memories we have shared still manage to put a smile on my face. Grief cannot tarnish those incredible moments of my life. Those moments help me to still feel his presence in my life.
This friendship was significant enough to know that the moments we had in the short decade we knew each other were monumental enough to fill whatever time I have left on this earth. Yes, nothing is more painful than that loss, if only the loss of potential for what the future could have been. But despite that hurt, I’ve realized I have loved and lost, but my life is so much better, so much happier, so much more fulfilled because I loved in the first place.
I may have hated Tennyson’s quote, but it was because I hadn’t understood it. I hadn’t lived it. Now that I have I understand that the gifts of love are far more reaching than even the power and darkness of grief.