“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

—Ann Lamott 

When we love someone with all our heart and then lose them, it feels like a vital piece of us is gone. The pain is real, deep, and it may feel like we’ve fallen into a pit with no way out. The loss breaks us and that pain, it’s hard to articulate. It’s like our heart’s been shattered into a million pieces.

The heartbreaking reality is, we don’t ever fully recover from this loss. But hold on, before you retreat, there’s a sliver of light in this truth. In the shattered pieces of your heart, in that seemingly unfillable void—your loved one continues to exist. The heartbreak isn’t a sign of an ending, but a testament to an undying love, a connection that transcends physical presence.

The pain doesn’t completely dissipate, but over time you begin to accommodate it. It’s similar to how someone with a broken leg learns to walk again. The injury changes the way you move, but it doesn’t stop you from going forward. Sure, a sudden dip in temperature might make you wince with remembered pain, but it also becomes a part of your dance, your unique rhythm of life.

In the throes of your heartache, you find a way to continue. You learn a new dance—one choreographed by your love for the one you lost and the strength within you. You dance with your heartache, through it, despite it. You dance for them, with them in your heart.

Embracing the pain doesn’t mean living in sorrow—it means living with memories, with love, with resilience. It means acknowledging your vulnerability and courage in the same breath. It’s this courage that helps us step out, to engage, to dance, and to keep the memory of our loved one alive.

So even when we’re broken, we’re never really broken. We’re changed, yes, and that’s okay. We dance with a different rhythm, a different grace. We’re not just surviving—we’re living, we’re loving.

We’re dancing with our broken hearts, and that’s the bravest dance of all.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.