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Author Learns Her Late-Husband Was 'Love-Starved'

Joyce Carol Oates, an American novelist, and her husband, Raymond Smith, also a writer, met while attending graduate school in 1960. They got married and spent 47 years side by side. In 2008 Smith entered a hospital with pneumonia, and it took his life. His death was sudden, before his wife could get to him.

In her memoir, A Widow's Story, Oates describes how she went through her husband's things following his death and discovered an unfinished novel. In the notes for this work, she found when he was in a hospital prior to their marriage and he fell in love with a fellow patient. To Oates' surprise, she also discovered that a psychiatrist had diagnosed her husband's condition by calling him a "love-starved" individual. She was shocked and even disillusioned. She had been close to her husband for years and never knew that he was starved for love. Oates wrote, "It should not fill me with unease to learn this, after Ray's death, and so many years after it happened. But he hadn't told me! It was his secret. He'd been 'love-starved'" (emphasis mine).

Isn't that an accurate description for all of us? Everyone has a need, a hunger and even a craving for love, and when it isn't found, we become "love-starved." As Oates said elsewhere in one of her short stories, "Loneliness is like starvation: you don't realize how hungry you are until you begin to eat."

Possible Preaching Angles: This illustration shows both our hunger for God's love, the hole in our hearts that only Christ can fill, and our hunger for human connection and community.

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