The Path of Love IV
Love in Action – Letting Go
It’s been a little tough to think about blogging about LOVE these days. I am in a long slow slide of loss and letting go. It’s nothing horrendous, nothing that isn’t the normal process of life, but I am living in the experience of loss and grief as opposed to the flip side of the rosy, glowy new love.
Just two weeks ago, I sent my 18 year old son off to Marine Corp bootcamp at Parris Island. It’s a great move for him, something that he has always wanted since he was five years old and it’s totally what he needs to do. But I miss him and it’s hard to adjust to the three months of no contact except through letters. Plus it’s bootcamp! For the Marines!
Just a week or two after that, my oldest son moved out to his own apartment for his senior year of college. (Yay! And I miss him too.) It’s a lot to have both my sons leave home within a two-week period. Right in the midst of that, one of my old friends died, losing a battle with cancer. On top of all of that, I am also renovating my house, so my home is all torn up. (It’ll be great later! Right now it sucks.)
These are all natural events. Kids grow up and launch. People die. And Mom’s get older too and go into the empty nest phase. It’s just life moving along like it does.
And yet, I am still struggling to get it all under my belt. My higher, Spiritual Self totally understands that the universe is always unfolding as it should, and I do truly believe that. But the human part of me is deep in grief and resistance to change. I know that love comes in a big spiral. We have love and we lose it; that is the very nature of love.
According to Greek philosophers, there are three stages of love, each represented by a God.
Eros is the beginning stage of love that we experience as falling in love. I fell in love with my three children the second that I conceived them, and probably even before then. For most people, this is their favorite stage of love. It’s romance, the honeymoon stage as love waxes and grows.
Agape is the continuation of love and we feel it in many ways. This is enduring love for our “people,” our families of choice and families of birth. And for humanity in general. There is something secure and comforting about Agape. Personally, it is my favorite stage of love. This is long time partnerships, the endurance and support of family and friends and it creates the baseline matrix of love that we live from.
And lastly, there is Thantanos. This is the loss of love and the grief that we feel at love’s endings. Love does end for so many reasons, the most basic of which is that life on Planet Earth is mutable and temporary. Things change. People die.
The old adage that the more we love, the more we grieve at love’s ending is certainly true. There are no guarantees when we love, except that at some point, that loss is going to happen. When the heart is robust and open, we fling ourselves into love and completely surrender to it, as I have done with my children.
Surrendering to love pries wide open the cold, closed up oyster shells of our hearts. Isn’t’ that terrifying and wonderful? I’ll take the grief along with the love knowing that, as I send my adult children into the world, they are in God’s hands although I have no idea what’s in store for them! Or for any of the rest of us for that matter!
I have to say that it’s new territory to send a son off to the Armed Forces. After boot camp it will be five months of the School of Infantry for him, when at least I will be able to call him. Then he will be deployed somewhere, anywhere in the world. He is requesting an overseas station.
The cure for my grief this time is Love In Action. When I saw a plea for help in a Facebook support group for families of recruits at Parris Island, I knew that could do something positive with the energy of missing my own son. There was a young man in Fox Company who was receiving no letters from home during mail call. He was so lonely that he began writing letters to other recruits in his platoon. How heartbreaking! Mail call is the only bright spot in a recruit’s difficult seventeen-hour day. My much-loved son gets letters every single day from his father, his girlfriend and me. Every day. Plus frequent letters from aunties, uncles and the Grands.
I cried buckets for this young man whom I have never met, choosing to serve his country with no one back home to support him. I started sending him letters too, as did many others, I am sure. I hope!
I felt that I was crying for my son too, and for all the other folks serving our country at great expense to themselves, amid sacrifice, hardship and loneliness. And then I was crying for ANYONE at all, anywhere, who was separated from their loved ones or suffering for any reason.
Grief is like that, when we let it flow. There is a beautiful opportunity to open our hearts to a bigger picture, to connect with all of humanity through compassion. For me, grief was a Band-Aid ripped off my feelings. The dam burst and soon I was crying for losses that I had totally forgotten about it. I leaned into it and let it happen. Might as well clean out all of that old grief too while I am at it!
I always find something comforting and beautiful about really giving over to grief. There is peace, love and compassion just on the other side of the tears. And I know that crying is truly the best cure for grief! Crying changes your brain chemistry and tears actually release chemicals in them too that make you feel better. So cry it out!
After the tear fest, I felt inspired again for Love In Action. I wanted to help. I wanted to use the energy that I had to serve, to make the world a better place. And to share the love that I have with someone else who needs it. I found a service agency where you can “adopt” a service member and send letters and care packages (soldiersangels.org). There you can choose soldiers who are deployed or veterans. I requested a deployed Marine, since that what my son will be. And I felt much better!
When the tears are over we want to get up and DO something. Love in action is a great way to process our grief. We start foundations to raise money. We walk for cancer, or ride our bikes across the whole state to raise money for a cure. We reach out, we help out and we serve. And it helps! It helps us and it helps others. And much of the time, we do things we would never have done if our hearts hadn’t been opened by grief. Isn’t that terrifying and wonderful?
So try it! Cry it out and then see if there is some love in action that can be a part of your cure.