Grief is Just Love With No Place to Go

alex atkins bookshelf quotations“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

During difficult times — especially times of grief — we look for comfort in words . Perhaps those words can be found in poetry, songs, prayers, or simply the reflection of someone who has walked this same path. It is easy to understand why this insightful quotation resonates with so many people and appears in so many books and websites. The sentiment is so universal and it is expressed so beautifully, so poetically. Naturally, it begs the question: who wrote “grief is just love with no place to go?”

One source of the quotation is a collection of insightful and comforting short sermons and quotations by Pastor Stephen Kyeyune titled Imparted Wisdom in Troubled Times: Making Sense of the Senseless Situation, published in 2018. The book is particularly helpful as we collectively mourn the loss and suffering of so many souls during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, Kyeyune mistakenly attributes the quotation to Jimmie Anderson; however, the actual author is Jamie Anderson, writer of the blog titled All My Loose Ends: Nourish Your Roots. According to a blog directory listing (last updated in 2009), Anderson (age 43) describes herself as a soccer mom who lives in Illinois where she and her husband raise their two daughters and three pets. Interestingly, the blog has been inactive since 2014.

The eloquent passage, which has gone viral, appears in the post titled “As the lights wink out…” (March 25, 2014) where Anderson discusses caring for a dog, once owned by her mother, which leads to a profound, poignant reflection about the grief she experienced when her mother passed away. Anderson uses the image of little lights as a metaphor for touchstones (items, people, pets, and places) that evoke the memory of her recently deceased mother. Sadly, over time those lights begin to wink out: “The lights wink out over and over again and [my mother] moves farther and farther away to a place where she’s not easy to touch and to find anymore.” She laments that when her mother’s dog passes away, it is one more light that is extinguished forever. Anderson reaches into the depths of her grief, commensurate with the depths of her love, and writes so purely from the heart: “Grief, I’ve learned, is really love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot give. The more you loved someone, the more you grieve. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes and in that part of your chest that gets empty and hollow feeling. The happiness of love turns to sadness when unspent. Grief is just love with no place to go. It’s taken me seven years to realize that my grief is my way of telling the great vastness that the love I have still resides here with me. I will always grieve for my Mom because I will always love her. It won’t stop. That’s how love goes.”

This quotation is a testament that you don’t have to be a celebrity, an acclaimed author or poet, a respected religious or political leader, or a world renown philosopher, or an influencer or self-help guru to write something that touches thousands or millions of lives — you just have to be a reflective human being who understands that life experience is the best teacher of wisdom (or expressed more succinctly, with age comes wisdom), and the obligation to share it with your fellow human beings.

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Read related posts: A Funeral Poem for a Friend
A Moving Tribute to a Dog
Best Books on Eulogies
Best Poems for Funerals: When Great Trees Fall
How to Grieve for a Departed Friend
Einstein’s Touching Letter to a Grieving Father

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