3 Things Only People Who Have Loved And Lost Understand

Sometimes we lose the people we love most.

Life has a way of just happening. You can prepare for the very worst and still be unprepared for the things that will break you the most.

I guess that’s the way it has to be: The tragedies we can’t imagine have the power to turn our world upside down.

It’s heartbreaking. You say goodbye to someone, and you expect to see that person soon. You don't even consider that this goodbye might be your last one.

You wonder, why did things have to turn out the way they turned out?

He just fell out of love with you. She just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had just one too many drinks and decided to get behind the wheel. She cheated on you and starting dating him instead.

The life you’re used to living has changed. You need to figure out a way to move forward.

People who are left behind have to find a way to remain optimistic. Because without optimism, we’re fighting a battle we’ve already accepted as lost.

It’s horrible when life takes people away from us. It does, however, have one positive side effect: It reminds you to better appreciate the people who are still in your life.

Even if the tragedy isn’t happening to you or to the people you love, witnessing the horrors others have to deal with is enough to remind you how much you care about the people closest to you.

Sometimes we choose to lose the one we love most. We choose to give up on a relationship, to explore the grass on the other side. We decide we aren’t ready. It's not the right time. We aren’t sure if what we’re feeling is real or simply a delusion. So we separate and live without our loved ones.

Again, it’s not always your choice. It’s not always you who wants to move on and forget, but the outcome is always the same: You’re left to deal with everything on your own. The love you once had is now lost.

It’s hard to compare the pain you felt over the loss of a loved one to the pain you feel from ending a relationship. But the lessons you learn in both experiences do have many things in common.

1. Now that you no longer have this person, you’d happily take all the bad just to get some of the good just one more time.

Our minds are good at burying unpleasant memories and focusing on the good instead. We're good at barely remembering the bad.

The bad memories start to seem less bad. All of a sudden, you feel like you could have dealt with your loved one’s complaining for the rest of your life.

You feel like you could have put up with all the mistakes your partner made -- the way he or she wouldn't appreciate you, the uncertainty you felt in the relationship -- as long as you could hold your lover in your arms again.

You know it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but anything is better than the darkness that now surrounds you.

2. It’s hard to think about this person, but at the same time, you don’t want to stop.

You know you need to move on. You know you can’t allow yourself to focus on the one you’ve lost, because living in the past -- especially one filled with sadness -- is not a way to live your life.

There is a mourning period. There is time to let reality sink in. But you need to redirect your focus. If you don’t, you’ll stop living. You’ll stop making progress. You’ll find yourself living a life that no longer exists.

You don’t want to think about this person all the time, but do this anyway. And if your partner abandoned you, you get angry with yourself for wanting to think about him or her.

Even worse: If you were the one who abandoned your loved one, you hate yourself for thinking you could let this person go.

3. No matter what happens, life goes on.

You can either choose to be a part of life, or you can give up on it.

Eventually, you find yourself weak and exhausted, both physically and emotionally. You’ve spent so much time trying to distract yourself -- trying to push yourself to enjoy life -- that you’ve found yourself in a place where you aren’t especially proud to be.

But you say it's all right. Because you are going through a rough time, and this is the way you’re dealing with it.

Yet there comes a time when you have to stop pretending you’re dealing with it. You have to actually deal with it. When that moment comes, you have to make one of the most difficult decisions possible: You have to decide that you’re going to continue on living, and you’re going to do so without this person.

You may feel like this means giving up on him or her, but it isn’t. What you're doing is not giving up on yourself. Eventually, you have to decide whether you want to keep holding on to the memory of this person and lose yourself in the process.

Of course, the people we love never truly leave us (as Dumbledore said). They stay inside our hearts for the rest of our lives.

In fact, losing the people you love sets you on a path you were meant to travel.

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