“Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
— Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
We can often be left wondering as to the flippancy of plastic platitudes, and this quote, above, can easily qualify for misapplication, losing the strength of its redoubtable truth. We don’t want to go there—where those who may be genuinely aggrieved are disposed for even further discouragement because of a cliché.
No, we can do better than that.
To Have Never Loved
To have never loved would surely require the state of having never been loved, for how could a person who has experienced the receipt of love not return it?
Then there are those who may have chosen the safe route in life; to not couple-up or invest in significantly deep relationships, because of the surpassing risk of hurt. Fear is the motivation. Such a ‘safe’ life is really no life at all.
Real life is known to run the gauntlet of love. It has to, because life would be a waste otherwise.
So we may see the detriment within the person who has not risked for love. To have never loved is almost synonymous with a state of having never lived.
To Have Loved and Lost
It was Queen Elizabeth II who said, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” I think that quote could be improved—grief is the price we pay for having loved.
God gives us a life that requires risk in order to gain, but in gaining we inevitably lose—not the idea of life itself, but we experience loss, and we could ponder the purpose of such experiences. All good things have their purpose. And love is good.
The purpose of love, or of risking life toward the ends of love, is growth; mainly emotional and spiritual growth. But such growth doesn’t finish there; it ramps up in the measure of loss—when the love we have so keenly invested is transformed in a flash from reality to a memory.
Grief is on a higher plane for growth than simply love is. There is a requirement of true strength of character to negotiate its hilly terrain.
Grief is a mountaineer guide of the highest order.
Grief takes us from the base camp of Love to the summit of Maturity.
It’s better to have loved and lost because of the experiences and tremendous life lessons afforded in God through, and because of, the journey. We are bigger, more compassionate people for having loved and lost.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.