When loving means losing

This weekend, I heard anticipated but still shocking news:

A friend’s partner passed away after a long illness.

No one expected anything different, and he was seriously sick for a very long time. Yet it still shocks. Why? He was barely 30 years old.

As I’ve gotten to know the quilting grannies recently, a nagging part of my brain has kept asking, “Do I really want to get close only to experience loss in a few years?” For some, “a few” is an exaggeration, but for others not so much.

No, I’m not proud of that attitude, but it’s part of who I am. Losing Bas was hard for all of us, and he was far away in a different country. Would I have wanted not to know him at all? Of course not. But would I consciously choose to continue a relationship knowing I would lose that person sooner rather than later?

What if I had entered a romantic relationship, only to find out quite soon that my partner had less than a year to live?

I don’t have any answers today. Just thinking about the courage it takes to love, to love hard, and to love even when it will mean terrible hurt.

What if it were you? What would you choose?

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38 thoughts on “When loving means losing

  1. pao says:

    I’m sorry to hear this news, Ana. Hm, this question brings up a lot of feelings and thoughts. I think I might choose to stick around. It must be lonely for this other person to know that death is around the corner… and I don’t think I could bear being away while knowing someone I know suffers. I feel that there will always be grace in loss and death should not deter us from letting someone into our lives. It will hurt when they go but such is life and its brevity.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      That’s the other thing, I picture myself as the one who gets the news of terminal illness, and I can’t fathom it. It’s made me realize I complain about a whole lot with very little reason. And sometimes the most bitter loss is of someone you never knew…like a parent you never met.

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  2. Renee says:

    Hey Ana, Sorry for your loss. I know how you feel. Sometimes I get myself very worked up and depressed over that very question. I live in a community made up of mostly retired, older adults (grannies). Almost everyone I know is older than myself by at least 30 years and most by 40 years. After the first couple of funerals I was distraught about the losses but I finally figured out that I was still better off knowing the people. I thought really hard about the joy, wisdom, and friendship they gave to me and decided that I was gratefully to have it for as long as it last. It has been ten years now and I have been tremendously blessed by the love and support of the older people in my community. They often do not have the petty jealousies and closed minds of the young. Most of them are just accepting and happy to have a friend. Sorry for rambling.. I’ll get down from my soap box now. Hope you are feeling better and have a good week. Hugs – Renee

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Renee, thank you. You know exactly what I mean. “the first couple of funerals” strikes terror in my heart, but this latest news has reminded me that people die at all ages, not just in old age. I agree about the retired group having love and support in a special way.

      The much-older gap makes for a very special friendship, doesn’t it? I console myself by saying I adore little kids, too, so at least those will still be around. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hugs back.

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  3. Constance Masters says:

    Sorry for your loss Ana. It is sad to lose someone close. It is sad to antiscipate the loss of someone you love. The thing is though, none of us know when our time is going to end. For some it comes tragically too soon. Sometimes even when someone has had a really long life we can’t imagine losing them. I can’t believe though that it is better to not take the chance. There is so much to be gained by loving and sharing no matter what the age or the relationship with a person. xoxo

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh, I should clarify that this isn’t my loss. I didn’t even know him. It just made me think about other things going on. You are right about a long life not necessarily meaning you are ready to say good-bye.

      Hey, aren’t you a quilting granny yourself? ๐Ÿ˜€ There should be a special quilting granny handshake or something. How is the grandbaby?

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      • Constance Masters says:

        When would I have time to quilt lol? I am a granny though. Have been since I was 42. Grannies are not always old ๐Ÿ˜› MY grandbaby is gorgeous. We mind her 3 days a week and she keeps us on our toes and keeps us laughing. She’s very funny. ๐Ÿ™‚

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        • Anastasia Vitsky says:

          She must be…what, close to a year now? How lucky for all of you that you get to have that connection. I hope she keeps you in line, Naughty Granny. ๐Ÿ˜€ And quilting is fun if you join a group where all the experts do the real work and you just tag along for the ride. ๐Ÿ˜€

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  4. Nina says:

    Ana, I am so sorry for your loss and you really have my sympathy. I donโ€™t really want to imagine what life without hubby would be like, because such an event would leave me broken and I donโ€™t think I could heal from that.
    When a friend of ours passed away unexpectedly in December, this was a complete shock for us. It left us stunned and very sad, because we had expected good news, not the opposite. Nevertheless, I couldnโ€™t imagine leaving my partner, because he might only live a short while. I think weโ€™d try to make the best out of the time we have. It would create a lot of sadness, if we knew the end was getting closer, but we would try to be together and to be close. I think itโ€™s similar with close friends. We love each other, too and if we want to be close, we have to be willing to risk being hurt, too. But living without loving or being loved is something I wouldnโ€™t want to endure. I think all we can hope is that somehow the good times leave a major impression on us and that we can leave some of the sorrow and sadness behind.

    hugs

    Nina

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I actually knew someone who left her husband, not because he had a terminal illness, but because he became disabled in an accident. It’s hard not to judge, but it’s also hard to imagine what I would do in her place. I agree that living without any connection would be unbearable.

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  5. terpsichore7 says:

    I am sorry for your loss. To love is to feel with your whole heart and to lose that would be devastating but not to have that love would be tragic – I would like to think I would choose to love. But unless I was in that situation I would not be able to say all the emotions and thoughts that would cross through my being. Still here, on the other side, the side of not knowing…I choose love. Hugs and light and love, Terps

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Well…I feel a bit dishonest with the condolences because it’s not my loss. I think to love and lose is better than never having loved at all, but the losing sure hurts a lot. I agree that we don’t know until it actually happens. Hugs back to you.

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  6. abby says:

    It is hard to love and lose, and makes one think about someway to lessen the hurt. But, honestly, the hurt is part of the love,,,and that love does not go away, it stays in our memories, and eventually in our laughter and smiles as we remember the good times and the love. It is sometime a lonely journey….sometimes a longer one that we would wish….but in the end,,,,t he loving was worth it.
    So sorry for your loss…hugs and healing thoughts
    abby

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      If only we could keep those special times in a pocket so we could pull them out now and then. The good times are so very good, but they also go by in a flash. I think, objectively, the lonely journey is not as long as we think it is…but from an experiential standpoint it takes ages. Yet I agree that we need love to survive.

      Hugs back.

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  7. hollawrites says:

    Geez Ana, you ask the tough questions! I like to think we meet people and form friendships for a reason. Either to make us and/or them better people, to help each other in time of need, or to just enrich our lives. The pain of losing someone that has become a part of our life is just part of living. A sad part. You can’t love without hurting somewhere along the road.
    I have on occasion met people who I’ve had to step away from for one reason or another. But even then, I want to think there had to be a purpose for us meeting. We learn from everything and everybody in our lives. Sometimes the lessons are hard, sometimes they’re sad, and even painful. But most of the time friendships and relationships are worth it all. But I think I’ve had enough hurt in my life that I would be very cautious of getting into a serious relationship with someone who I knew had only a short time left. Then again, you can’t always control who you fall in love with.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      That’s me, queen of the tough questions. ๐Ÿ™‚ I agree, or at least I’ll choose to be an optimist in thinking that all connections have a reason. Even if they turn out to be bad later, or if they don’t last as long as we would like, we still had something in that moment of connection. We also learn things we might prefer not to learn. Hurts make us into the people we are, but sometimes we might choose not to have them…if we could.

      Thank you for your thoughts.

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  8. Michael says:

    Ana, I am very sorry for you and your friend. My heart goes out to you both.
    It does take courage to love, and love hard, knowing you will one day experience tremendous hurt either when the relationship ends or upon the passing of your partner. It is one of the hardest things in the world to take that leap of faith and commit to another; laying your inner feelings and self bare and vulnerable and trusting the person will hold your heart tenderly, lovingly and respectfully. My ex wife wounded me very deeply when she betrayed my love, and after our divorce I hardened my heart and for years refused to let another woman get close for fear of being hurt again. That is why it is all the more remarkable that when I met my beautiful wife Season she was able to get past my shields and touch my heart with her love. We are together now and for who knows how long we will have on this mortal Earth, but I would have it no other way even knowing some day one of us will pass and it will break the heart of the other. In the short time of a few years we have already built a life and a lifetime of memories and amazing experiences which keep increasing day by day. I am sure I speak for Season when I say we are both the richer and happier for it, and wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I’m glad you have found love again and that it’s been positive for you. So many times, a negative experience can cause us to give up on other opportunities. I know I’ve rejected opportunities because they felt too similar to negative past experiences. Still, I think even our mistakes help us to become better people. When I was a child, I heard so many people tell me to live so I wouldn’t have regrets later. I think it’s impossible…and trying to live that way only makes us fearful about making choices now. I think we have to choose to live knowing we might have regrets later, and it’s part of being human.

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  9. nancygoldberglevine says:

    So sorry to hear about your friend’s loss, Anna, and you’re making me think this afternoon. My husband, the love of my life, passed away in 2001–he went to the emergency room because of flu like symptoms only to find out that he had Stage IV lung cancer and never smoked. Eight weeks later, he was gone. Someone at the funeral said it was better to have loved and lost. My mother-in-law said we had a beautiful love story. I miss him so much and I’ve experienced other losses since then. I almost died myself in 2011 when I got pneumonia and slept for five days and the doctors didn’t know if I’d wake up. When I did, I told myself that life is short, so I try to enjoy all the time I have with my parents and friends for as long as any of us are here. Lately with all the problems, I have to keep reminding myself of that and it’s not always easy, but I try.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh, Nancy. It may have been a beautiful love story, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. Among the quilting grannies are quite a few widows, and some are much younger than you might think.

      I understand about the problems beginning to seem overwhelming. So much going on, so many struggles, and such difficulty to keep going. Still, you are right to find joy and meaning in the time we have. I’m learning that lesson anew every day. Or at least the days I make an effort. Sometimes, I’d rather wallow in a bit of self-pity. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am glad you made it and that you are still here. Thank you for your presence.

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      • Anastasia Vitsky says:

        At times, we probably need a little wallow. We’re human, not perfect, and we have to give vent to the negative emotions in a safe space. But if we have good friends who encourage us to step forward, we can move on. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sometimes it’s as small as washing dishes that day, or baking a loaf of bread, or picking up the phone to make a call. I’m glad that you stay in touch and that you keep making that effort.

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  10. minellesbreath says:

    Loss that young can be so very tragic. However as much as it hurts when you lose a loved one, I believe it is worth every moment to love. I believe we are blessed when we let people in. I always am amazed at what joy a person can bring to me even if it is for a short time.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Another girl, one I didn’t know, lost her husband practically the minute he began military duty. I think he was around 19. I never heard about her again (she was a distant acquaintance of the family, not someone I knew personally). I wonder if she had moments to treasure afterward…that is certainly a short time.

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  11. Wilma Rubble says:

    When my Dad was diagnosed with Cancer, he had a discussion with my sister-in-law. He told her, ” Don’t be sad for me. I have had a wonderful life. I have few regrets” He died at the ripe ‘old’ age of 64.

    Your friend’s partner death at 30ish isn’t really the ‘natural’ order of things and it makes rationalizing in our mind so much more difficult. Of course you know the answer to your question already. But I’ll say this, the pain of loosing special people would most likely be less than that of people who are not fortunate to l have special people in their lives to loose to begin with. There is a loss I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Losing someone special is indeed difficult, no matter how wonderful the time together might have been. One of the hard parts of old age is watching your friends and loved ones die before you. But again, what would we choose instead?

      And my question is neither simple nor already answered. We might have an idea of how to respond or what we think is right, but if it were us in that situation we never know what might happen.

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  12. laurellasky says:

    I don’t think anyone is prepared for a loss even if it’s terminal. I’m getting closer to the other end, I’m a step granny and she is now 23. I’m at an age that I never thought I would reach (70) and my husband, Ed will be 89 in a few months. I think about losing him and make myself crazy so I try very hard to enjoy each good moment. Ed’s mother was 101 and never sick and her two sisters were 99. Right now Ed is taking care of me and doing the driving until I get the cast off my arm.

    Ed and I lived in Israel for six years, I was working as a nurse. I received a phone call from my sister, Pat, she told me that her husband of 18 years killed himself. Pat had been told by the Mayo Clinic that she had a rare life ending disease. I flew to the states to stay with her for a while. He could not face losing the love of his life so he took his own.

    Pat spent the next year going for dialysis 3 times a week. She did everything she could to help set up her son and daughter, and I knew when she phoned me that she was ready to die. I flew to her and got her setup with hospice and they were wonderful. I stayed with her for a month. That last week she stopped her dialysis and a week later she peacefully passed away. Even though I knew what she was doing, and as emotionally effected I was, I was happy that I had such quality time with her and have such wonderful memories of our lives together. She was 53 year old.
    I guess I am rambling on so I will end this. All the above comments are right on the money.

    Big hugs,

    Laurel

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh my goodness, your sister already had so much to deal with and then to lose her husband, too. I’ve read that sudden deaths are the most difficult to adjust to because you don’t have any time to say good-bye, while long-term illnesses (when you know death will come) are more difficult for loved ones before death rather than after.

      You’ve experienced loss in your life, but you hold onto the precious memories. In a way, the precious memories still with you (of your husband). I think it’s a daily decision-making process, isn’t it? Not easy at all. Blessings to you.

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  13. Irishey says:

    I know what I would choose, and I know that I would keep choosing it – over and over again, even knowing the incredible pain that accompanies it. That pain is breathtaking, but it doesn’t define or lessen the love and good experiences. That pain – they say it lessens and fades with time, but the pain of loss never really changes. Time does make it easier to remember all the love and good times without the ripping loss overshadowing everything else. I think we want to remember the good and relive the smile moments in their original form, and not feel tormented by the emotions caused by our loss, and the fearful, angry regret that we can no longer experience those things in real time. I think we are grateful for having those memories in our emotional storehouse. It’s knowing we cannot continue to have those feelings and emotions WITH that particular person that shreds us. Still, I would rather be shredded by the pain of losing someone so special, than never to have felt and experienced the importance of sharing time with someone who generates such strong good emotions for both of us.

    Just my 2 cents. Hugs!

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      In some cases, to experience pain can be a privilege. When someone allows us to share something very deep they are going through, it’s an act of immense trust. Yet sometimes it can be too much…and then we feel like we are drowning rather than being there for them. It’s hard not to judge people who shut down rather than engage and share with others after a devastating loss (because it hurts other people), but would we really do differently if it were us? I think, at the end of the day, we all do the best we can and mess up just as much as the next person. Somewhere in all of that mess, it’s got to be worth it.

      Hugs back.

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  14. Roz says:

    Ana, I’m sorry I am so late to this and so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend’s partner. Losing someone is never easy and is always a shock, even if that loss is anticipated. To love and to be loved in a blessing and I think if we know we will lose someone dear to us, what better way to honour them than to show them our love. As hard as it may be I don’t think we should let loss deter us from loving.

    (((Hugs)))
    Roz

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  15. laurellasky says:

    Two other comments. During the last week before she passed, she said she had 18 years with her husband, and he treated her like a princess and her only regret was not being around to see her children get married and have good lives. She would be so proud of them and I have five great nieces and nephews. The other comment is that I worked in a children’s hospital and it could be heartbreaking to see these young children who would never experience life. But these kids had amazing way of being so brave as they tried to comfort their parents.
    Blessings and hugs back to you.

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    • nancygoldberglevine says:

      I just found out that my dad, age 94, is not doing very well. They are trying to take care of him at the nursing home, but he may have to go into the hospital. Things are not looking good, so I am holding on to whatever time I have left with him and my mom and trying to cope. Peace.

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