I am often amazed at the shear number of people who either A) Are not capable of unconditional love, B) Don’t really know what that means, or C) Don’t apply it to themselves (calling myself out here).

Even as a small child, the overall concept just resonated with me. I was a lover, full of cuddles and hugs. It also meant I was extremely sensitive. I didn’t do well with feeling like I disappointed anyone, especially those I loved so dearly. To be honest, I never did grow out of that. To this day, my single biggest fear in life is disappointing people I care about. I hate letting others down.

Normally, people can agree that this trait is favorable, as it implies I am more than well-versed in unconditional love. I will always go above and beyond for the people that I value. I will always put other’s first, even if it means sacrificing my own happiness. There aren’t many people in this world who love like this. I used to resent so many for it, but nowadays, I understand.

As the years passed by, I began to realize how detrimental that has been to my own self-love and well-being. I now understand why people are selfish. I get why they don’t want to go the extra mile for others. Has this stopped me? Not a chance.

Widowhood brings an entirely new perspective to unconditional love. When you truly fulfill those wedding vows (til death do us part), there is this strange sense of pride. So many people have broken relationships, separations, and divorces, but my marriage with my late husband did not fail. It was unconditional love, long before he took his last breath. He was the incredible soul that matched my level of love for others, and he never let me feel unworthy. We would’ve done anything for each other, and there was nothing that could’ve stopped that kind of love.

But as more time went on, new memories were made, new chapters began, and I finally fully understood that I still hadn’t mastered the entirety of unconditional love. I still couldn’t put myself on the same pedestal that I reserved for those I love so wholly. I still wasn’t enough for my own standards of unconditional love, and while I know I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to correct this, I will always wonder how widowhood made this so much more difficult.

Grief is loaded with more emotions than I can list, but the few that have personally struck me with brute force are sadness, shame, guilt, and envy. These are the main conditions that prevent me from loving myself unconditionally, and they are amplified with every passing milestone and anniversary. When you love others so deeply, experiencing these events without your person just seems so painfully bittersweet. How can you truly embrace any joy when they cannot be right beside you? How can you feel whole and worthy of unconditional love when your person is not there to celebrate you?

Admittedly, this post is a bit more somber than my usual, empowering outlook. As I approach the 2 year marker without Luke, I am left riding more grief waves than ever. I will always be my own biggest advocate for healing, but I can only hope that one day, I can master the art of unconditionally loving myself…scars and all.

Here’s to hope.