Book Cover for The Heart of Grief

The Heart of Grief: Death and the Search for Lasting Love

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Table of Contents

Book Excerpt

When we grieve, we move from loving in presence to loving in separation. Nothing is more difficult in grieving. Nothing is more important if we are to thrive again in lives profoundly changed by loss. In this book I show how lasting love in absence is both possible and desirable.

I tell stories throughout to illustrate how we can learn to love in separation as we find a new reciprocity with those who died. They leave us their legacies. We give them places in our hearts, both where we miss them and close to the vital centers of our lives.

Ceremonies of separation support us as we say good-bye to their physical presence and open our hearts to what we still have of them. Memorials remind us of them and the meanings of their lives. Memories of them delight and enrich us. Their practical influences shape our daily lives. We identify with their characters. We draw inspiration from them.

As we hold them in our hearts in these ways, we further their interests, give them a symbolic immortality, and fulfill their desires that we live well after they've gone. We use and find meaning in their legacies. We address our own suffering and find consolation that tempers the pain of missing them.