It's probably some inherent facet of human design that we search for meaning in times of personal loss. That loss could be the death of a family member, a beloved pet, some remembrance of our childhood, or even the end of a long friendship. At least for me, there has been this desire to somehow, at least initially, try to make some larger sense out of the losses I have experienced. I write that last sentence full of the knowledge that what I have experienced in the way of loss likely pales in comparison to that of many others. This noted, I have been an abject failure in my trying to understand loss.
Then someone smart told me something in four words that brought me some sense of understanding:
Loss is not logical
Loss doesn't follow a neat, predictable set of rules that can be analyzed, re-engineered, and re-assembled then placed into a nice little and understandable box that we can put on a shelf when we should be done with it.
Loss is messy. It lingers. It has a terrible habit of being open-ended, sometimes seeming as if it will never end. It overstays its welcome and lives rent-free in our heads. There are examples of it in my own head where in spite of my best efforts at understanding, it can become, at times, pervasive.
Loss for me sometimes "leaks out" in the form of very vivid dreams. These aren't what I'd call nightmares. There is no violence. There isn't even mourning. In fact, oddly enough, these kinds of dreams for me almost always involve doing the most mundane of things. Think traveling with someone long gone. Visiting with a long-ago friend. This is, I suspect, the heavy reality of loss that (what I believe to be) my logical mind is utterly incapable of discerning, no matter how much analysis I put forth. What's left? That would be what dreams are, namely a kind of biological cleaning of our mental cache.
John Steinbeck once sort of described this very same idea...much better than I ever could...when he wrote:
"It is so much darker when a light goes out than it would have ever been if it had never shone."*
That light could be a brother, a pet, a friend, or even a place. The specifics matter far less than just the sense of void that is created.
So what's the answer? Where's the solution? In short order, that would be "nothing" and "nowhere". I think we just learn to live with the loss, and it becomes a part of us. Some of us may even view this through a lens of faith, that kind of abstract thing where, in the absence of any real proof, we still believe in something. I admire faith, by the way. Well, make that what I consider to be genuine faith: That which is not driven by or about obedience or fear of punishment. If faith were only about obeying a higher power, then dogs would be our role models. Fortunately, that's not the case.
So in the end, what have I accomplished in this posting? I'd say a solid "not much", other than to maybe nudge myself away from a lifetime of viewing the world through a lens of logic and instead giving myself permission to just experience. This all sounds so very simple...when typed...but yet still so very difficult.
(*) From The Winter of Our Discontent