Just as there is no right or wrong way to grieve, or to cope with tremendous loss in your life, there is likewise no right or wrong way to love. So when Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert revealed she's dating someone new and opened up about her new relationship on social media, she asked her fans and followers to understand that it is OK to find romance in the aftermath of tragedy.
For those who have not been keeping up with Gilbert's life, she mourned the loss of her partner, Rayya Elias, who was also her best friend, People reported early in 2018. "I loved you so much, Rayya. Thank you for letting me walk with you right to the edge of the river. It has been the greatest honor of my life," she wrote when Elias passed. "I would tell you to rest in peace, but I know that you always found peace boring. May you rest in excitement. I will always love you."
However, in the year since Elias passed, it's clear that Gilbert has gone through her grieving process, and is finding new ways to move on with her life, both romantically and not. And she's here to remind us that it's OK to love again, and TBH, it's unfortunate that anyone wouldn't understand that.
Gilbert announced her new relationship with a super sweet black and white couple's selfie, in which her new boyfriend is kissing her cheek and she is laughing at the camera.
"It’s a beautiful spring day in my corner of the world, life is everywhere bursting forth with a sense of rebirth and renewal, and this seems like as good a moment as any to tell you that I am in love," she captioned the post, before introducing followers to Simon MacArthur, a U.K.-based photographer, according to TODAY, who she says was actually a longtime friend of Elias'.
Gilbert went on to explain that as she and MacArthur have found their way together, she wanted to open up about this part of her life firstly because she wanted everyone to understand what was happening if they are seen together, and secondly because she wants to encourage others to understand it is OK to find love again.
"His heart has been such a warm place for me to land," she wrote on Instagram, before offering the following advice:
If you have lost a loved one to death, and you thought you’d never love again, but you are feeling a pull of attraction toward someone new, and you’re not sure if that’s OK? Let me normalize it for you. Let me say: It’s Ok. Your heart is a giant cathedral. Let it open. Let it love. Do not let your gorgeous loyalty to the deceased stop you from experiencing the marvels and terrors of your short, mortal, precious life. It’s OK to live, and to love.
Fans' reactions have been predictably, but mystifyingly, mixed. While some are praising her and rejoicing in her newfound joy, others apparently don't feel that a new relationship is appropriate just yet. Others seem to be criticizing the fact that she falls in love "a lot," which is an odd thing to be angry about, but it is the internet after all.
However, others on Twitter and Instagram have outpoured their love and support for her. "So happy for you! Thank you for sharing your love stories with us. They are beautiful and awe inspiring," actress Chrissy Metz responded. "You are magic together. Big love to you both!" author Cheryl Strayed also chimed in.
"Thank you for sharing this. My husband just died last week on our wedding anniversary (and the spring equinox) after a long 9 month struggle with stage IV pancreatic cancer," another commenter shared. "It is encouraging to see, not so much that one can love again, but that one can be at peace and smile so freely after such a loss. I continue on now only because he asked me to promise him that I would."
Gilbert's message about her new relationship is an incredible and healthy reminder that though some people feel entitled to dictate the way one should and shouldn't carry on with their lives — whether they are facing loss, or not — that there is no one right way to run your life, and if someone is in love and everyone involved is happy, we should be celebrating that above all else, not criticizing it.