By Rosalba Stocco, MSW, RSW and Jacqueline Johnson, M.A.
In the Notebook, the husband, Noah, longs for his wife, Allie. He cares so much that he reads to her the story of their lives in the hope that her mental capacity might return and they would be together once again in mind, body, and spirit.
When reading these parts of the article, notice where you would rather get a cup of tea or put the book down. I will say something shocking:
The Notebook is not a love story. The love portrayed by Noah and Allie at the end of their lives is not in the service of life!
What do I mean by this?
A friend watched this movie and suggested that while it was a beautiful movie, it made her uncomfortable. Why?
She could not imagine dying just to be with her husband and she would not appreciate her husband loving her so much that he would rather die to be with her rather than go on living with their children.
Noah’s death wrapped up their love story neatly as their children no longer needed to worry about Mom or Dad.
It enabled their children and grandchildren to focus on life rather than death and dying. I realized I was resisting looking more deeply at the story, but when I did, my perspective changed.
While the fairy tale is of two people eventually overcoming the odds, coming together, building a life together and then dying together, they were spared the pain of loss and grief.
Many married couples have said to each other, it would be good to leave this life together.
Yet the reality is, that it would leave quite an emotional mess behind for surviving children and relatives.
Passing on the legacy of love
The true love story with Noah and Allie belongs to the children. In my therapy practice, it is not unusual to hear how deeply the loss of a grandparent was felt whether the loss was experienced as a child or an adult. The children and grandchildren are the ones left to come to terms with their parent deaths. They are the ones who are left to figure out how to find meaning, purpose, and vitality.
I have often been witness to children and grandchildren who had to learn how to let go of the pain of losing loved ones. They had to learn how to remember and cherish what they taught them and how to keep those teachings alive.
Those who are able to let go of the pain were able to tap into love and gratitude for the life shared. They are able to see how their lives were enriched. They also chose to pass on the legacy of their loved one with a passion and a zest for life.
Reach out today
To learn more about reclaiming the love stories of our families and gaining a new perspective on what love truly means, stay tuned for Rosalba and Jacqueline’s new book Love Stories of our Families.
Rosalba helps individuals, couples, and families heal and live a more productive, harmonious life. To book an appointment or to find out more about how Systemic Family Constellations therapy can help you, reach out today. You can call or fill out the contact form.
About Jacqueline Johnson, M.A.
Jacqueline Johnson M.A. is a nationally recognized writer, editor. As an adult educator in language and life skills training, she has developed a reputation for innovative curriculum design which often incorporates writing as a means of exploring personal issues. Her interest in trauma began when she was charged with developing a life skills program for women fraud offenders in the Canadian penal system. Over a twelve year period, the program increasingly focused on the commonality that all fraud offenders shared : severe trauma, much of it intergenerational. In searching for viable interventions, Jacqueline consulted extensively with Rosalba Stocco who was exploring Systemic Family Constellations. These consultations grew into collaborative writing projects about trauma, family history and the nature of love.