The Beauty Of Heartbreak

April 15, 2011

A few weeks ago at SXSW in Austin, Texas, the lovely Karen Walrond sat me down and asked me a few questions about heartbreak. Not about the sad and the terrible and the woe-is-me of heartbreak, but about the beauty of heartbreak. And it was a wonderful and, I think, important conversation, because there is beauty in heartbreak, such that it’s actually misleading to call that exercising of the heart a break. The heart never really breaks. It pulls and stretches and moves and expands, and that movement can hurt terribly, but it’s not a movement toward breaking. The heart is not bone or ceramic or glass, Debbie Harry’s assertions notwithstanding. The heart, as I’ve said before, is a muscle. Its movements are extraordinary, even when they hurt. I needed to remind myself of that.

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    { 8 comments }

    corasmom April 15, 2011 at 10:41 am

    That is really lovely – thank you!

    red pen mama April 15, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Thanks, Catherine, that is a beautiful reflection.

    The way you talk about losing your father made me think about losing my first son (he was stillborn). So much came out of that loss, that amazing grief. Losing Gabriel made me realize how much I wanted to be a mom, how much I wanted to have children with my husband — so many things. As you said you would take your father over the “beauty of heartbreak” is true too. To have my son, I would trade the gifts I got from his death in a heartbeat, in *half* a heartbeat.

    Anyway, thanks again. You are always making me think and feel and reflect, and I really value you for that, even though we’ve never met.

    Penbleth April 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    This was beautiful and so thought provoking. To reflect on what we have experienced and even gained, even if we would give it all back to have our loved one with us again.

    Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments.com April 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you. I needed that today.

    Raisel April 15, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Wow, this is really good.

    Christine April 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I read this post with my morning coffee and am only coming back now to comment. I had to think about exactly how pain and loss could be beautiful. I had to think about the word ‘beautiful.’ I use it so freely I wasn’t sure for a minute exactly what it meant. But I had the thought that the ‘beautiful’ part of being in the throes of despair is that it brings to light what a tremendous capacity we have for love, and our willingness to dive into the depths of human emotions to establish connections. I think this is particularly beautiful to me because I often wonder how technology and social media is affecting our ability to do just that.

    Minka April 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you for introducing me to Karen Walrond’s work, and thank you for that sweet and precious segment. No one likes to think about loss, but perhaps if we were more mindful of it, we’d think more about the things we fear losing and appreciate them more, just as you spoke about the interplay of light and dark. I lost a close friend when I was in my mid-20s, and it was so unexpected… it profoundly changed me. Everyone tells you to “get on” with your life, but you were so right about embracing it and allowing yourself to experience it. Our culture’s insistence on being happy is actually pretty hurtful. Our culture is all about distractions, and it fails to acknowledge that there often are many positive things to be gained from so-called negative experiences… the princesses disguised as dragons. We are so fearful of really living with emotions, so fearful of being real and honest and so trained to reply “I’m fine, thanks, how are you?” when asked how we’re doing. I’ve been refreshingly surprised in my most recent endeavors to be honest when asked “How are you?” I often say, “Well, truthfully, not so great lately,” or whatever the case may be. And at first people are a little taken aback, but then they typically seize the opportunity for some real engagement and real dialogue and it removes the artificial small-talk and creates a real conversation… which is so great and uplifting and makes those moments so much more important. So great that you had this experience with your father and were able to take his loss and find the beauty in it. Thanks for sharing.

    The Culture Mom April 16, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Thank you so much for this. It is just beautiful. Your words, the images, the music, the way the video is shot. Perfection. Meaningful beyond words.

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