Is It Better to Have Loved and Lost or to Never Have Loved at All?

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“‘Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson.

When love, like anything, reaches its inevitable end, the loss can and does cut so deeply that it not only feels as if something inside of you has died, but as if someone has died. Like mourning the physical death of a loved one, mourning the end of love goes through similar stages of grief: denial that it has ended; anger at both your lover and/or yourself; bargaining with the universe or god to bring back what has been lost; depression, which usually manifests itself in a loss of appetite, listlessness, exhaustion, and/or an overall disinterest in life; and finally acceptance. The agony one feels during this process often leaves one feeling as though it would have been better to have never loved at all; but would that truly be better or is Tennyson correct? I suppose it depends on who you loved, how deeply, and how/why the relationship ended; however, if you see love as part of the process of becoming, then perhaps in its loss there is something to be gained?

You see, the beautiful thing about love is that it never truly dies because you are tied forever by shared memories and experiences, which alter your very being, helping to mold you into who you will become. Every person you have ever loved, in any form of love, becomes an indelible part of you, a thread in the tapestry of your very existence. For that reason you were, in a sense, meant to love the people you have loved and will thus belong to them forever, and they to you. That is not say that you do not move on from the loss and from the one you love; only that the love and the loss of it are essential elements in the never ending process of personal growth.

For that reason, Tennyson is correct. To have never loved at all, though it would have spared you the initial pain of loss, is worse than having loved and lost because the tapestry of your life, the glorious work of art that is you, would be incomplete and that would be a far greater travesty than a temporarily broken heart.

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