Grief Is The Price You Pay For Caring

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We’ve written that when it comes to losing a loved one, the expression ‘little love little grief, big love big grief’ helps people wrap positive meaning around the boundless emotional pain and suffering they’re experiencing. That pain and suffering is a testament to their loved one, a proof that this person was special and important and exerted a profoundly positive effect on their lives. What they’re going through is a symbol for big love. If there weren’t much pain and suffering it would be a proof that there hadn’t been much love, which for most is a far worse proposition than their current state of suffering.

The exact same argument can be made for those of us grieving not the passing of a loved one but our own changed life circumstances, the symbolic death of a period in our past that we cherished. Many people look back on what they consider to be their glory days and can’t help but feel hollow, even embittered, as they work to come to terms with the fact that they’ll never be able to inhabit that space again.

If you’re dealing with this type of grief, if you’re grieving the passage of time where your current situation doesn’t look so good compared to your wonderful past, you can wrap meaning around the forced adjustment by summoning up gratitude for having gotten to live through those great times at all. Like we said, ‘little love little grief, big love big grief’. If those times hadn’t been special you wouldn’t be grieving them, and would that be preferable? Of course not, and this is the price we all end up paying for whatever it is we cherish. Change is inevitable and with that change comes the destruction of that which we cherished.

So the choice really comes down to not caring about anything at all, never engaging with life or people, and therefore never having to face any losses worthy of those painful feelings of grief, or caring deeply, fully engaging with life and people, and therefore constantly having to face losses worthy of those painful feelings of grief. You can’t have it both ways, those invisible scales always end up balancing out. Grief is the price you pay for caring, it’s the price you pay for having had a situation worth caring about. And isn’t that better than the alternative?