I previously talked about my experience with loss as in having had someone or something and then it being gone. Today, I will look at a different aspect of loss, at least it is a different one in my mind: the feeling of loss we have for something or someone we’ve never had or experienced. It is a very different feeling. Some would say it is just longing, but I would disagree.
Mourning the loss of things that never were.
We all want things, more or less trivial things. Most of us have wanted a mate when we were alone, have ached for a different life we’ve never experienced, or deeply longed for some other imperative we felt was essential.
Sometime it is silly, often it is not.
I’ll always remember how as an awkward and overly shy teenager, I missed a world where every girl would just throw themselves at me. It was a painful feeling of incomprehension that later I would equate with the pain and “Whys” of more substantial losses, like the one I mentioned yesterday. [They are not the same, obviously, but the feelings were equally devastating. Teenage-hood is awful like that.] But that loss was not diminished by the fact that it was for something I never knew. It was no less real or affecting than those that came later. In fact, it took me a couple of years to mourn that loss, make my peace with it and be okay with the world as it was. That’s a silly example, I know, though none the less painful.
As a more serious example, let’s take a look at those people, and especially females, who desperately want a child but cannot, for whatever reason, have one. Do they not mourn that loss? And is it not a loss? The simple prospect of not being a father at one time in my life brought me to tears, my pain and incomprehension just as strong and affecting as the ones that rocked me through more traditional losses (and it wasn’t because of infertility issues FYI). I mourned, things changed, it got better.
And there are countless things in our lives that are such, things we will never experience and that we have to mourn, that leave holes in our hearts that are difficult to explain, that bring us to tears and to rage and that we have to accommodate our lives around. And those losses change with us. They pop up like heart attacks from the depth of our beings, and suddenly, without necessarily knowing why, we have to mourn. And the worst part is that sometimes we do not even know what we have lost in such a way. The feeling is there; a pervasive sense of emptiness or the unsettling feeling that something is wrong. But no root cause to direct our effort of mourning toward. That’s when things get hard.
It takes a lot of work and introspection to unearth those things we’ve lost without knowing we have.