Grief is rooted in human connection. And if we didn’t have grief, we wouldn’t know how deeply we were capable of loving someone.
Grief and love go hand in hand. The deeper you love, the deeper the grief. They’re containers that live alongside each other and you cannot experience one without experiencing the other at some point, for a variety of different reasons.
That doesn’t necessarily have to mean that someone dies or the relationship ends (which can be another version of a death)
Grief very often exists within the context of a relationship at some point, even a healthy one.
You may grieve the loss of former versions of yourself that have changed as a result of that relationship. Perhaps you have hurt your partner somehow, or they have hurt you and you are grieving one or the other or both. Maybe you’re grieving the previous version of your relationship in general because you’ve moved onto a new level with that person.
With great love comes deep grief.
We wouldn’t recognize the highs of great joy and deep, meaningful connection if we didn’t also recognize the depths of despair.
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Grief, Love, and Why One Cannot Exist Without the Other
You’re listening to Episode 248 of the Room to Grow podcast. I’m Emily Gough, a human connection coach, speaker and mental health advocate with an insatiable sense of curiosity and adventure, always asking more questions and using the power of stories to teach, learn and grow. It’s about allowing for room to grow. And this podcast focuses on three main pillars: human connection, personal growth and freedom. We cover topics like relationships, and cultivating genuine supportive connections with ourselves and others, speaking your truth, shattering personal barriers, radical self acceptance, and courageously leaning into your skill sets. Whether it’s a solo episode, or bringing on highly curated guests with incredible stories, experiences and expertise to share, we’re leaning in and taking the entire idea of growth to the next level, all while still covering the uncomfortable topics that many of us like to avoid, there’s always more room to grow. Let’s do this.
Hey, welcome back to the Room to Grow podcast, Emily here. And today we’re going to be talking about grief, love and why one cannot exist without the other. This has been a topic that has come up for me multiple times in conversation with multiple people, including with relationship coaching clients, and one of my clients that was asking me specific questions about this post a breakup and was asking, you know, how much grief is normal? What does it feel like? Is it worth it? And I just felt really compelled to share some of my thoughts on this, because I think that this is an aspect of love that we don’t always talk about enough is the grief part that comes with it. And that doesn’t have to mean a death, or the end of our relationship, which I stated in a previous episode is also a form of death. For previous versions of yourself, all of these things, there’s so much that comes with this that I really want to help unpack this a little bit.
But first, I want to remind you that the doors to the Room to Grow mastermind are open, we start January 18 2021. And this is a very, very small, intimate group that is based largely off of the things that I talked about on this podcast, this is how the mastermind was born, is to give me a space to go deeper with you because I can only do so much on a podcast episode. And this is going to really be unpacking how to become a better, stronger, more resilient human. And to be able to communicate better to strengthen your relationships to build better boundaries into your life as well, to deepen connections and stuff that these are the kinds of things that we’re all craving more of, and to really lean in, in those areas in some really significant ways. Because we’re tired of the same things. If you’ve ever had the experience of sort of waking up one day and going Is this it? like is this hell is this all there is and just feeling sort of exhausted from the monotony of it all and feeling like you, you don’t have the deep meaningful connections that you want to have in your life and you feel very ungrounded, these, this mastermind is going to be diving into all that it’s eight weeks long, and you get a ton of access to me, it’s gonna be a private group, you get coaching with me all of that. Really, really excited about it, I can’t wait to share this with you. So go check out the show notes, all the information is in there or send me DM over @emilygoughcoach, we can chat about it. also happy to jump on the phone with you. So let me know if you have any questions. And yeah, January 18 2021. So that is coming up if you’re listening to this episode in real time.
So let’s talk about this a little bit more grief, love and why one cannot exist without the other. So to me, grief and love go hand in hand. And the deeper you love, the deeper the grief, because there are containers that live alongside each other and you cannot experience one without experiencing the other at some point for a variety of different reasons. And and again, that doesn’t have to mean that somebody dies or that the relationship itself ends. Grief often exists within the context of a relationship at some point, even a very healthy one. You might grieve the loss of former versions of yourself that have changed as a result of that relationship. Perhaps you’ve hurt your partner somehow or they have hurt you and you’re grieving one or the other or both. Maybe you’re grieving the previous version of your relationship in general, because you’ve moved on to a new level with that person. And it can be a better level, a stronger level. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t aspects of that other previous level that you don’t still miss and you can grieve that, with great love comes deep grief. And if you only ever experienced very surface level emotions to me, you haven’t truly lived, because there’s balance in everything. And if you don’t grieve someone you loved when you part with them, how much did you truly love them? We wouldn’t recognize the highest of great joy and deep meaningful connection if we didn’t also recognize the depths of despair. And to be clear, people also grieve and love in very different ways. So what we define as being an acceptable or expected form of grief, that could be true for us. But that’s not necessarily true for someone else. Same with love.
We all know that we all communicate in different ways. And this is why in the mastermind, I’m teaching how to communicate better, because part of communication is not just how we show up and communicate ourselves. But it’s also how we interpret how other people are communicating to us. Because we can control how they communicate, and what we can control our response to it. And sometimes if we have very rigid thinking around how one should communicate, and if people aren’t communicating the exact way that we are, we usually, it’s a very human thing to do I do this do we expect the other person to communicate the way that we do so that we understand it, that simply isn’t going to be the case. And that’s why I’m teaching how to be more responsive, and adaptable when it comes to things like communication, because it’s a conversation, it’s not a one sided thing. So in order to deepen your communication skills you can’t just improve your own communication skills and the way you speak, you also have to get better at interpreting how others are communicating as well. And that’s a huge part of what we’re unpacking in the mastermind. And that is a big part of this conversation around grief and love, because we know how we grieve. And we know how we love and how we show love. That’s also like the five languages love conversation, right? That’s why that book is so good because it sort of in a more mainstream way opened us up to this idea that, hey, how I show love might not be how someone else recognizes it. And vice versa.
And grief comes in all different forms, as well. And it will appear at different moments and can come out of nowhere when you least expect it. And that’s part of this conversation about how it will look so different for every single individual. There will be moments when you’re grieving, when you might feel numb. Other times when you’re experiencing joy for a moment, and then notice it’s maybe the first time you’ve laughed in a really long time. Sometimes the sun will be shining and everything will be going your way and the grief will come out of nowhere and take you out at the knees when you think you’re doing well. Grief is rooted in human connection. And if we didn’t have grief, we wouldn’t know how deeply we were capable of loving someone.
And part of that is also simultaneously honouring and grieving how resilient you are. If you are resilient, if you’re courageous, it means that you have lived through deeply difficult scenarios and situations, whenever I meet someone that I feel is incredibly resilient, that I can sense this inner strength coming from them. I know that that wasn’t an accident. And I really recognize that in them and want to learn more about them and honour them for that strength and that resilience because I know that they probably had to walk through fire to get it. It’s not, it’s not innate. It’s something that is honed over time, and through really fucking hard situations and circumstances. The strongest people I know have been through the darkest shit. And that’s often just how it is.
One of my favourite favourite quotes about grief, it’s quite lengthy, so I don’t think I’ll read the entire thing. But when my relationship fell apart two years ago, more than two years ago, back in 2018. After I found out about my partner’s nine years of infidelity, you can reference Episode 117 I’m sure you’ve if you’ve listened to this podcast for long you’ve heard me reference that episode dozens of times, so forgive me, but for anyone who’s just listening for the first time, you can go reference Episode 117 to get the full story on that. But when I was going through that very very dark period of my life, my best friend found a quote on grief on Reddit. And so I don’t know the exact author. I only know their handle is gsnow. And I will reference this so that you can go check out the entire quote, in the show notes, I also actually posted on my Instagram as well. So I’ll reference both of those for you to go read the entire thing because it is quite lengthy. So I won’t, I won’t read the whole thing, but the quote was about grief from the point of talking about an actual death like somebody actually passing away. But a lot of what was said in the quote can be applied to any form of grief, particularly in the relation of grief, and love. And one of the sentences in one of the sections anyway, that stood out to me the most from this quote was, “my scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut or even gouged. And that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And that the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life scars are only ugly to people who can’t see”. So there is much more to that and about how to deal with grief. And I have found a great deal of comfort in it. And it’s something that I keep in the notes app on my phone, and I go back and reference it often. Because it speaks so powerfully to me. So I really strongly recommend going to check out the entire thing.
But it’s not something that we want to experience. Nobody walks around wanting to be grieving. But we do as humans want love, we’re here to love other human beings. And that’s an enormous part I feel of why we are here. And we can’t have one without the other. Because that’s bringing it back to that idea that there’s balance in everything. And grief is also incredibly relative like not only is it going to look different for everyone, but I’ve had this conversation so many times with people where they will be, you know, they’ll be comparing the ending of, say, a six month relationship that they just got out of, to my nine year relationship ending. And then they’ll immediately state how different it is, apologetically, as though their experience is so much less than mine, as tough as, as you know, they should be tougher than that to remove some of the pain that they’re experiencing. Because their six month experience, and I’m just using that, as an example, is so much less than my nine year experience. And I really want it and I always tell people this in person, when it comes up to Yeah, it might be a different experience. But that doesn’t take away the pain and suffering of someone dealing with the ending of a shorter term relationship. They are not comparable in that way, time is relative. And time does not equal the depth of human emotion.
You can feel a connection with someone you’ve known for six months more deeply than a connection you’ve had with someone you’ve known for 20 years, we’ve all experienced that. Sometimes you’ll meet someone and it’s like instantaneously, you just know, you’re like, Oh my God, this person is like meant to be in my life. And I’m not even talking romantically, it’s just sometimes you just know, you just have that connection. And it doesn’t mean that there’s a guarantee of how long that person will remain in your life. And if and when they leave your life for a variety of different reasons whether the connection is just no longer working out or whatever it is. It’s incredibly painful. And that is where that grief comes up. But what a beautiful gift to have had that relationship, even if it didn’t end well. You still have the gift of being able to take lessons from the experience. And and to, to cultivate a sense of purpose from it. I’m not saying that that’s going to mean that every connection you have is pleasant. Like trust me there are parts of connections that I would love to maybe not have experienced if I had been given an option beforehand. But I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t taken and purposely pulled the lessons and the meaning from what I took from those connections. And part of that may have been the grief that I experienced because of that connection.
And this whole idea about how time is relative and that it doesn’t equal the depth of human emotion. This is also why I question people who maintain relationships or judge the quality of their relationships solely based on the length of time that they’ve known someone that they have been in a relationship with or whatever, I actually go into that in depth in Episode 187. It’s all about time and the effect on the quality of our relationships. Because one of the things that I always noticed about myself was that whenever people would ask how long I had been with my former partner, as time went on in our relationship, I would say, you know, like, 5,6,7,8,9 years, and I was very validated by the response that people gave, because it was like, holy shit, you’ve been together nine years, like, That’s amazing. And like, almost like this, this congratulations. And I was so validated by that, like, I took pride in that. And yet, look at the quality of the relationship. I mean, sure, I thought that it was quality at the time. But that was because I didn’t know what was going on behind closed doors. But there are still I will meet people even who, you know, maybe have friends from high school. And it’s 20-30 years later. And when you really dig into that, and don’t get me wrong, I have my one of my best friends in the world I met in middle school, I’m very, very fortunate to have had that because not everybody has that experience. But sometimes I’ll talk to people who are friends with people from high school. And when you really kind of dig into the connection, it’s sort of like, they’re only still friends with that person just because they’ve known them for so long, they might not even actually feel that connected to them. But it’s a comfort thing. It’s just this is just the way it is because we’ve known each other for so long, there’s no questioning or challenging of the status quo, to even figure out if that’s a connection that actually still serves either one of you. Or if there’s maybe something that could be a little bit more meaningful out there that isn’t based solely on the length of time that that person has been in your life and vice versa. So I’m just challenging you to look at the quality of your relationships, as opposed to basing a relationship solely off of the length of time of a connection, like look at the depth of the connection, as opposed to the the so called quantity of the connection, if we’re looking at it in terms of time.
And when it also comes down to this whole idea of people who are grieving, maybe a shorter term relationship, and then, you know, comparing it to somebody who’s had a longer term relationship, comparative suffering doesn’t serve anyone. And this whole idea of comparative suffering. I really love Brene Brown, to reference for that. She did an incredible episode all about comparative suffering, on her podcast, Unlocking Us, a really, really fantastic episode, and go listen to that, because she explains it so much better than I can. But basically, the whole idea is that when we stuff down our own emotions, because we’re looking at somebody else going, Oh, well, they have it worse. When we stuff it down, that means that those emotions are going to come back 10 times worse, at a very inconvenient moment, most likely. And comparing our suffering to someone else’s, doesn’t make one or the other better or worse. Suffering is still suffering. And yes, you know what, there will always be someone out there who has it worse than us. That’s just the way it is. But that whole idea of comparative suffering doesn’t, doesn’t help us and it doesn’t take away our grief when we are in the depths of despair.
How deeply someone feels cannot be measured in terms of time. And grief, and love are so intertwined. They’re so intertwined with each other. And that can be really scary. Because we don’t want to feel the grief. So then sometimes we will try to avoid love. We will try and protect our heart. We will build up walls to keep ourselves from getting hurt or getting rejected or ever having to experience that deep grief. But that’s why I said that, if you’ve only ever experienced surface level emotions, and you likely won’t won’t necessarily know that either. But you will know it when you feel the grief. Because then you will know how deeply you loved. And that then opens us up to experiencing love even more deeply to next time with somebody else. As incomprehensible as that can seem in the moment. There will come a time where you will be able to open up again.
And this is going to tie in with another episode that I’m doing about developing the capacity for unconditional love. Because this is also something that I’ve given a lot of thought to in recent months, even in the past year or so, and I think that there’s a lot to it. So this is gonna be kind of like they’re gonna be like sister episodes, not quite part one, part two, but they are very closely related. And I just want to encourage you to keep that in mind that if you cut yourself off from love, because you’re terrified of the potential for grief, just know that when we do that we’re preventing ourselves from experiencing like that depth of human emotion on the positive side as well. And any time. Like, there’s always balance in nature. And anytime we experience a high, there will also be a low to go with it, because we wouldn’t recognize one as the high without the low. Right? We know this intuitively, we just like to try and sidestep the truth of that. So that’s something I want you to think about. Keep your eyes peeled for the next episode all about the developing capacity for unconditional love.
And don’t forget about the room to grow mastermind is starting on January 18 2021. Make sure to check out all the information in the show notes. It’s also over at roomtogrowpodcast.com and do not hesitate to reach out with any questions so send me a DM over @emilygoughcoach. And all the information is there on the website too. So it’s all linked up for you. And I cannot wait to dive in.