This post is dedicated to the grief-stricken, broken-hearted, and anyone who has ever lost love.
I will admit to my own grief as I have recently lost love due to death, so I deeply empathize with the grieving. I’ve also lost love due to the end of a long relationship, which was largely my fault and yet I cannot turn back the hands of time to fix. I have been left without any explanation, leaving me with an altogether different kind of grief. I felt the bitter sting of betrayal and left the person. And I have loved and had my love rejected.
Even if pain is evitable, I think love is worth the cost. Just as death is an outcome of life, I suspect pain may be part of love yet there is an ultimate lesson from life, love and death.
But this post isn’t about loss and pain. We’ve had enough of that, right?
This is to offer an expansive view into love.
Sometimes knowing that there is more than one type of love can help someone in grief. One type of love might be gone—or one very, very special person that provided you with many types of love. This isn’t to erase them, it’s simply to broaden your recognition that other love exists in your life and to cherish it. Like losing a majestic tree in your garden, this is to help illuminate that maybe flowers and plants that are still there can comfort you. And like plants, here are some areas you can continue to nurture.
Like so many things, we can thank the Greeks for the developing the following seven different types of love. I’ve added a couple more to the list from my own personal experience.
One of the most common forms of love that immediately come to mind when people think of finding romantic love is Eros. This is sexual passion and desire, named after the Greek god of fertility. It’s that magical ingredient we call chemistry that helps ignite the beginning of a relationship and that many endlessly seek.
But there’s more.
You know that crush feeling that gives you butterflies in your tummy? Or that innocent playful love? That one is called Ludus. It can be present with a romantic partner, but can also be a playful love you have with a friend that doesn’t involve the chemistry part.
Speaking of friends, there’s a special deep friendship kind of love called Philia. You know those friends you have that feel like Soul Mates, where time can pass and then you talk and pick right back up where you left off? This is it. A deep love with a deep bond. Yes, you can have this with your romantic partner and sometimes people don’t.
One love that I suspect most everyone deeply desires yet don’t realize that’s what they’re seeking is Pragma—a longstanding love. That’s the promise of the “happily ever after” in fairy tales. A love that lasts. Parents and children are typical of this along with many fortunate marriages and friendships.
Even deeper is Storge, which is familial love and addresses the unconditional aspect of family love and encompasses the dependency needs and unconditional family bonds regardless of our personal qualities.
Then there is Agape, the universal love for everyone. This is what the 1960’s songs were about when they called for uniting in love over war. Jesus described it in the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you;” and can be seen in the “Namaste” greeting that means “I bow to the divine in you.”
Finally, there is Philautia, which is love of the self. It’s not selfish or a narcissistic type of love that is steeped in ego-gratification. In working with clients throughout the years, I have found this one can be the most difficult. This is the love of self that listens to and honors one’s feelings and inner guidance. It refrains from self-attack and self-flagellation. Paradoxically, self-criticism usually results in lashing out and criticizing others; while self-soothing allows people to better empathize with and comfort others.
The two I would like to add are forgiveness and faith. Forgiveness of any of the hurts you have ever felt in love (or anywhere else) and faith that this is not the end and that something bigger exists that cannot be explained. These are my lessons from love, loss and death—and they definitely feel like they steeped in their own forms of love.