One of the great questions when someone enters the world of the Afterloss is “what happens to love?” I have found so many different answers to all the different ramifications to this question of what does

love mean to me now and how can a life of great sorrow find a way to love life again?

Benjamin Love againBut there was also a more specific question at hand – will I ever be able to love another again?

Lydia and I had been married for fourteen years when she died. I first met her when I was eleven years old. We began our romantic attraction when I was twenty-one. We had a lot of shared history filling the spectrum of our lives from the heights of joy to the depths of sorrow. Could another love enter and could I love again?

Rachel, my wife, entered my life seven years after Lydia died. I had other relationships in between. I stumbled through them as best I could. I found healing in each of them, but for one reason or another I was not able to sustain them.

Rachel and I have been together for almost fifteen years now. We have traveled to many places internally and externally. We have lived and visited many countries on a shoestring all the while I was living on a thread.

After Lydia died I wanted to love again, but never thought it was possible. As we entered the last of her life she encouraged me to find another. Lydia said that it would be the greatest tribute to our love for me to love again.

I tried to love again and again and until Rachel I could not find what within me kept life at bay. If I was to love Rachel I had to explore in my Afterloss what was holding me back.

For me, one of the greatest challenges of loving again was living in the foreboding shadow of loss. The possibility of another love lost was a monumental fear. To get close to another would open me up to losing another. I just couldn’t go through it again.

Another question I had to address was how can I ever fully love another when all that is left of me are fragments of love scattered across the landscape of my Afterloss?

There are so many challenges to loving again. I will only mention one more – if I loved Rachel what would that mean to my love for Lydia?

Rachel is a unique person. We first met in Thailand. The story of our meeting is in the book and there is no time to go into the details here. But there was an instant resonance between us. We had lunch one afternoon and shared our life journeys.

My path has been filled with the dance of healing wounds. By that time, I was well aware of my limitations. I said to her, “I am not a well man.” I’m not sure she believed me. On the outside I look normal. On the inside, the world of my Afterloss is quite expansive and it takes up a lot of room.

One of the most unique aspects of Rachel is her ability to hold space unconditionally. It is a very unique quality. She is wise. She is strong. She is independent. All qualities I am drawn to, but the greatest quality is her ability to sit with another and provide them with a space to be real, to be open, to be safe.

Lydia was a psychiatric nurse. We used to joke that she could have put my family and me on her resume when looking for work. Rachel’s day job is corporate and individual coaching, along with other skills in writing, public speaking, photography and living with me.

This page would not exist if it weren’t for her. It is her photography and her putting words I have written into images that grace this page. She has kept this page going. I write the post and respond to comments, but she is the one that makes it beautiful and keeps it alive. She does all this and maintains her day job. She does more in a day than I could do in week.

When Rachel and I first met I had to work through the barriers I had built in my Afterloss. I thought they were walls of protection, but came to realize that they were prison walls. I was not keeping the hurt away. I was imprisoned by the hurt within my walls. I desperately wanted to do it different.

Rachel and I had a ring ceremony on Phi Phi island in Thailand. As we were planning our expression of commitment, I began to notice something within me shifting. I observed me creating distance from Rachel. I said to her, “I need to let you know that I am scared. I look at these rings and I can’t live in the concept of forever. I know what ending means. I know the limits of forever.”

Rachel instinctively responded, “Well, let’s don’t look at these rings as a symbol of forever. When we look at these rings, let’s see them as a commitment to live in the fullness of this day.”

The wall I had erected to keep hurt at bay dissolved and my hurt was set free.

What I have found is that the stumbling block to whether I could ever love again was not the word love. What imprisoned me was the word “again”.

I wish I knew who said this so I can give them credit, but it has been so much a part of my healing that I need to share it here. The person wrote, “We are not afraid of the future. We are afraid of the past repeating itself.” Whoever said that, thank you.

The answer to the three challenges I had to address before I could love Rachel boils down to this. My past is one of love. My future is one of love. My present is one of love. There is no again. There is only love.


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