A reader commented on my last post, eloquently sharing his hard-won insights about grief. In doing so, he highlighted an important element of grief: time.
Bill wrote, "Sadness is a primitive emotional response; dogs teach us that. Grief is that complex mental structure we use to try and make sense of a whole jumble of emotional states that loss evokes."
Dogs have emotions but they don't grieve, partly because they cannot comprehend time -- past, present and future. Grief is an emotion that links us to the past: to someone who was and is no longer; to something that was or is no longer.
In my February 11th post I asked,
Could it be this ongoing struggle that links everything together, with grief reflecting the striving to go back to where you were before the loss? And hope reflecting the striving toward a new normal that integrates the loss?
Since then, I've concluded that grief is not bound by the notion of a struggle. Grief can be experienced when not struggling to hold on to the past.
But I still believe grief is bound by time. Grief is one way we are tied to our past. Any discussion of healing grief must tackle our relationship with our past, and how this relationship affects our present and our perception of our future.
In my next post, I'll discuss Bill's comments about another element of grief: love.