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Free Range Love and How to Find It

windowFebruary is the “month of love” annually for many people.

Not for me.

And especially not this year.

A month before my birthday (in December) I lost someone who was like a second mom to me and had been slowly passing all during the last year. So….basically, an excruciating wait followed by an even more excruciating loss.

Two months after that (so in January), I went through the breakup of a long-term relationship….and by long-term, I’m talking a decade of not just romance but also true friendship.

It has been a challenging month.

To add insult to serious injury, the dreaded “grief cycle” (thanks but no thanks, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) quickly returned – with enthusiasm – to “help” me through my twin losses.

What its help has looked like on a daily basis feels similar to what I imagine I might see if I was inside a blender as it was grinding up a few heaping cups of multi-colored Fruit Loops.

One day I’m angry; the next day I’m sad. The day after that I feel nothing – and I mean no-thing. Then I have a day of euphoria where the future is my stage….followed by total denial that there is a stage, or any aspiring actress who might need to “fake it til she makes it.”

In other words, super-fun.

But this morning I had one of those true, rare, “aha” moments when, for a split second at least, I understood where all this loss and grief might be leading.

You see, when I lose someone I love, it feels like a part of me goes with them. There is this big void that was filled only moments before by my perception of my love for that person, and their love for me. This void is quite vast and needy and really, really uncomfortable with its own emptiness.

The void can also become viciously resentful at times…with the willing complicity of its owner.

But this morning when I woke up, and before my conscious mind had quite yet returned to remind me of how irked I was and how unfair all of these losses really were, I experienced something.

It was love.

It was the same love I’d felt for my second “mom,” and for my ex.

It was right there – in that very void – just exactly where it was supposed to be in precisely the right quantity.

Only as I woke up more and more, I realized that both of those individuals were not there to accompany it.

Rather, it was what I can only describe as “free range” love – love that is not dependent on a person or even a presence for its continuation.

It was just love – the love I thought I had “lost” – perhaps a prodigal love returning only upon becoming aware I was finally open to welcoming it back without pre-conceived notions or judgments about where it has been or what took it so long to come home.

In those first few waking moments (and ever since, to be honest) I have realized that without my losses, I would have never found out that love does not depend on a person, a presence, an experience, or even a concept to survive and thrive.

Love is not waiting, holding itself distant from me, until my heart heals or I meet someone new.

Love is right here, right now, and just as full and plush and present as it has ever been.

It is ME who has been attaching that love to certain names and faces, and not the other way around.

Oh. My. Goodness.

This is a big realization.

It almost makes the pain of the losses seem worth it.


Today’s Takeaway: How do you process the “loss” of someone – or the “loss” of love?  This is all quite new to me – I would love to hear what you have learned and what has helped you when you’ve experienced loss!

Woman in window image available from Shutterstock.

Free Range Love and How to Find It

Shannon Cutts

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2014). Free Range Love and How to Find It. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 11 Feb 2014
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