Writing an obituary for love

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When Kathleen Horan’s boyfriend walked out on her three years ago, she was heartbroken. She was in her mid-thirties, they had been living together for several years — this was the love of her life.

“It was like being punched in the stomach when you’re not expecting it,” she says. “I’d been through break-ups before, but I’d never felt this acute, intensive-care pain.”

Two weeks later her father died. Horan, a reporter for New York’s WNYC radio station, flew back to the family home in California where, surrounded by mementos of her father’s life, she wrote an obituary for the local newspaper.

As she did so, some “cross-pollination” of the two emotional upheavals in her life took place: “I found writing cathartic and it occurred to me I should write an obituary for the love affair that had died, too.”

The idea evolved into relationshipobit.com, a website that is a bittersweet testament to the beauty and transience of love. Since Horan posted up her summation of where she and her boyfriend had come adrift, hundreds of others have followed suit with wry, acute and often funny observations on their own — disastrous — love lives.

One woman writes that her relationship “passed away peacefully in a pizza restaurant on a Saturday afternoon”; another that the love ended up “like a colour photo sitting on the shelf too long; it just faded”.

Too much time has passed for me to write the obituary of my once great love, but I think I would really have relished the opportunity to do so in those early days.

Adapted from Sunday Times 26-07-09

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