A Naive Person’s Look at Loss

Bertram_Mackennal_-_Grief

By: Chloe Rudnicki | Opinion Editor

December 3, 2015

Sometimes, life decides to take something beautiful and break it. Hearts, minds, relationships, memories:  nothing is sacred to this ruthless monster, powered by time and mortality. Humans, after all, are destined for an eternal conflict of beautiful and ugly, rebirth and death. Sometimes, people are stolen away in the thick of a beautiful autumn on a quaint morning that is utterly unprepared to bear its death-tinged destiny.

Busy suffocating and blinding myself with the worries of someone anxious to take part in the world’s constant anxieties, I was in a peculiar state of ease and security when I answered my mother’s quavering voice on the telephone. I could tell by the way her voice wobbled through the static that something had unhinged itself. My best friend, a beautiful person from a past I treasure as the present, had lost her father. My skin prickled and my chest hollowed out. At the time, I was angry and disbelieving. I was struck by how unfair it was to have to endure such tragedy for all who loved him.

I repeated over and over that they have been changed forever and will never be the same.  I couldn’t possibly know what it feels like to lose my father. As the heartache nestled itself in my chest, I felt an overwhelming need to go home. It was imperative to put aside my own selfishness and ignorance and be there for my friend as her world rearranged itself and forced  her to start anew. I have never before experienced a pain so frightening in its intimacy and irrationality. It forced me to confront the elusive spirits of death and loss in the eyes and try to get to know their souls as I watched a beautiful family I grew up knowing process a pain of which my own sorrow only scratches the surface.

As humankind is  blessed with the ability to absorb what’s good and beautiful in this world, from a milky sunrise to the bright eyes of a child, it is also subject to watch these things wither and fade away. This cycle of love and abandon, accompanied by thrashing emotion, is what is often referred to as loss.

Just mouthing the word gives the heart a subtle pause. It implies an unending abyss, an all-encompassing darkness while others live infuriating oblivious lives at its edges, not knowing what it means to be stuck falling for the rest of one’s days.

Like most humans, I possess a purely conceptual understanding of loss in its most grave, wild forms. I have yet to endure it marking itself on my face and gashing its noxious scars into my heart. From this blissful yet fatal ignorance, from this bright-eyed perch, I struggle to take the sufferings of my family and now of my friends and piece together what it means to come undone and to heal.

Despite having watched family continually suffer at the hands of loss and quietly try to claw back to a simpler past, I have also witnessed the emergence of wiser, stronger people finding peace in their pain. I thus recognize loss as something healthy, much like a forest fire, in which the forest has to be wiped clean by persistent flame so that it can build itself back up again. Loss is what allows humanity to grapple with love and healing and forgiveness. It is what brings color and dimension to lives that would otherwise be mere paper frayed and made dull by the slow, vague fading of a paralyzed state of being. Without intense, terrible pain, no one would have the strength nor the incentive to peel back their artificial layers and discover the soul that lies at the core. Simply put, this pain is what makes humanity beautiful and life somewhat romantic even in its brutality. It allows knowledge and love to grow and transform in ways that allow one to heal and find a deeper happiness than what can be had in a life fettered by perfection.

Loss is what happens when life is at its most free. It is undoubtedly barbarous and rocks its sufferers to the core. But healing is what follows this loss. It is what allows buds of souls to flourish once more. It is what fills humanity back up again when life seems to be sucked dry. And, in spite of the tears and anger and gaping voids that gnaw away at security and faith, being able to replenish an empty heart and sprout anew from old desolation is akin to living forever. It is what allows for whole, healthy life to reveal itself from the ashes of disbelief and melancholy. It is what unlocks the mind and completes the person. As much as it breaks and is a thousand shades of black, there is nothing that lasts forever. All that is human must yield. And so it is with the terrible pain that meets one  at least once in the course of a life. And because of this, I am not ready (who is?) but accepting, to bear my share of the perils of being human.    

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