Sometimes, now, I imagine that there was a moment when the gods and goddesses of creation offered us this : the gift of love, provided we accept the fact of knowing we will die. Would any of us refuse the offer? Would we choose to live a life without love to remain ignorant of death? Even in the early moments of my grief, I never hated the bargain. Even in the midst of the pain of loss, I welcomed the fact that we had twenty five years of learning to be lovers.
Forever taking leave, always on the verge of departing, we wander the world and along the way, at one time or another, meet others and together for a brief moment arrange things. We fall in love, marry, raise a family, start work, become knitted to the fabric of a community . Yet all the while we see with a deeper, third eye, a subtle erosion of all that we have so patiently and lovingly built. One by one the things we make slip away. One by one those whom we love pass on. And always in the dark silence of the night we know. Always in that dark hour of solitude we understand that death will take away the ones we love
But where do they go, those whom we have loved and have died? We soothe our children with stories of heaven, and even as adults we still continue to cherish this place in our heart, eve if we can no longer believe it with our minds. Something in us needs these tales. Something in us needs to imagine that love does endure, perhaps even beyond death. And yet, these stories can cheat us of the deepest demand which love makes upon us : to love what does not last, to love the rose which in its blooming already fades. To embrace here with love what will pass away, what is in this very moment passing, while still hoping for a love which lasts beyond the grave! How can we do that? Again I don`t know, I only know that after the shocks of grief and long, slow winter of mourning, I have found myself experiencing the world through different eyes, as if grief had changed the prescription of my vision. In these moments, I experience all that is around me with melancholic eyes, with those eyes which can see in the midst of what is present in the moment, an absence which already haunts the moment. Melancholy, I now believe, is the mood which allows us to love in the midst of our continual dying. It is the mood which nurses the fact that love is born and rests in the cradle of death. It is the mood which allows us to bear the mystery of love as the fragile home which the homeless soul builds in the human heart.
Robert Romanyshyn : Mourning and Melancholy : The Orphan and the Angel
Experiences of grief and loss do make our souls feel homeless. That in which we have taken root, or those with whom we shared linkages and connections, even if haunted with shadows of disconnection are gone, suddenly taken. We can experience grief over the loss of more than just a person, but when the person we have lost or who has died was so centrally important to our lives a vacancy or lacunae is left and into that void we fall. Some of us are lucky to have those who will stand by as we are swallowed up, others of us may not be so lucky and may have anxious ones swoop in and try to save us. Others of us may watch loved ones being swallowed up and feel powerless. (I most certainly know I experienced a lot of that in my own life witnessing the traumas, losses and abandonment of my two sisters and mother.) How we respond from this powerless place is very important.
I have personally felt that sometimes medication was being used as a way to stop a necessary descent. I remember listening to a lecture by poet Robert Bly in which he said this: in depression we suffer a loss and refuse the call to descend, in grief we go willingly down. Perhaps our various reactions and responses to depression, loss and grief or a dark night of the soul are not so clearly demarked, but the point is during these times the unconscious comes calling and its a testament of our love not only for that or who we have lost but also for ourselves how we respond. Bearing in mind such responses are never fully conscious. Loss and grief do seem to demand of us an opening out after we fallen for a time and an opening of our heart in love, maybe even if for years we collapse or fall into a closed or folded up state.