When Heartbreak Is Too Small a Word

Sarah Birdsong
Nov 4, 2018 · 2 min read

On November 13th, 2017, I said:

You will never love someone as much as you will mourn them.

I still believe this much to be true. Reflecting on the loss of my nephew, I could spare only a small offering of words to describe how his death affected me then… and now.

The months that separate me from his passing, from the day I shared my Ruminations of Love and Loss, have done nothing to diminish the heartbreak.

The heartbreak you suffer after losing a loved one is more than just heartbreak — it’s something more. Azriel’s mother described this feeling as being without name — and she’s right. It’s grief beyond grief and heartbreak is to small a word to describe it. Grief is the price we pay for love, and the deeper we love, the deeper our grief.

The inelegance in lacking words for grief is just one part of the problem. Culturally, we tend to view death as a summation with the hindsight highlighting every choice and move made. Beset by perceived shortcomings, caught riding the friction between the ambiguity of mourning and moving on, our grief sinks us. We beg for a swell in the waves while enduring those that crash. In the midst of this, the friends and family who remain often stand dumb with ambivalence, which is the second half of the problem.

Silence, even well intentioned silence, can be deadly.

There are no words that can bring the dead to life, and yet there are no words without the potential to stave off hopelessness. In the midst of loss, when heartbreak is too small a word, lift as you rise. Be present.

While I still believe we will never love our loved ones as much as we will mourn them, I also believe our love has the power to preserve those who remain.


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Sarah Birdsong

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Disgruntled heathen puzzling over the world for want of wit. Born in a microcosm, possessed of different instincts. SEO by day, drive-by writer by night.