How often do you view loss as a heart-opening experience?

Today is March 18 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you view loss as a heart-opening experience?” Amy Krouse Rosenthal did. Rosenthal was a children’s book author, memoirist and public speaker who published “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” in The New York Times just 10 days before dying of ovarian cancer.

The March 3, 2017 column had over four and a half million readers online in the first week after its release. She wrote the column as a paean to her husband of 26 years Jason Brian Rosenthal. Rosenthal wrote: “I want more time with Jason. I want more time with my children. I want more time sipping martinis at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Thursday nights. But that is not going to happen. I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet. So why I am doing this? I am wrapping this up on Valentine’s Day and the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift I can hope for is that the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins.”

Her husband said in a statement afterward, “When I read her words for the first time, I was shocked at the beauty, slightly surprised at the incredible prose given her condition and, of course, emotionally ripped apart.” She ended her paean with I’ll leave this intentional empty space below as a way of giving you two the fresh start you deserve.” And with that in mind, I will leave this intentional empty space as a moment of silence for her death.

In her November 21, 2016 Women's Health Magazine article “7 Young Widows Share How They Found Love Again” Carrie Murphy examined loss and love and believed grieving the loss of a partner does not actually mean one is not ready to date. In the article Murphy included research by Brandy Engler, Ph.D., Los Angeles-based psychologist who suggested "One never gets over major life losses—meaning you will always feel something. To me, this is beautiful and in no way means a widow shouldn't move on and form other bonds.” Over time, and through the grieving process, many women can honor their past relationship and actually “experience loss as a heart-opening experience: You learn to love deeper, savor what you have, and use any regret from the past relationship to learn.”

Murphy interviewed seven widows for her article and many experienced the same feelings of learning to love again. As one widow noted: “My husband and I talked about how important it would be for each of us to find a new soul mate if something happened to one of us. He was killed while riding his bicycle shortly after our talk. I decided to date just a few months after my husband was killed, but it was too soon. Then, I met a widowed man whose wife's birthday was on the same day as my husband's death date. There were so many other amazing coincidences, and it was clear that we were meant to be together. We have a huge appreciation for love, relationships, and how short life is. It is important to take the chance to love again when you find a great partner because hearts can expand to love more than one great person. Finding a widower provided me with someone who understands the 'new' me."

American author and motivational speaker, Leo Buscaglia, also known as Dr. Love, noted “Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time. It tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other.” If you were dying, could you rise to the challenge of death, not waste time, and give away your love?

If you do lose the love of your life, would you be able to view it as a heart-opening experience? Would you take a chance on love again? As with all Navigate the Chaos posts each day presents an opportunity for reflection on how one might practice the art of living. There are no right or wrong answers; merely thoughts to consider as you go through your day. If you have lost someone you love, then my hope is that your memories bring you peace, love, and strength to move forward, knowing that love remains an option for you.