A facsimile is the best we can do.
I read a beautifully poetic thought some time ago... I believe it was stumbled upon while perusing a second-hand interpretation (possibly Will Durant's?) of Plato's writing, and if so the thought was plausibly of Socrates' origin by extension, though I can't find the quote to confirm that suspicion.) In any case, the postulation went something like this:
It may be that the soul is like music and the body a lyre; that when the instrument is destroyed, the music, too, is lost into the abyss from whence it came.
Of course this had even more meaning at the time it was postulated, as it used to be that music could not be recorded, only played at; invented, reinvented. And that each piece, whether it was original or a facsimile, lived truly as a unique experience every time it was heard.
Souls are like that, from what I can infer. They are tethered to their instruments, for good or ill, from conception unto death. Each one unique and irreplaceable. You only get finite chances to experience them, to love them, and that is part of what makes getting to know them so exquisite. So when you lose a lyre (or even more tragically the lyre) who brought you joy, you will likely feel shocked and disoriented at first, and in moments of weakness you may curse the musician who introduced you to such soulful bliss to begin with. "What was the point," you will ask of the sky, "In allowing my ears such peerless enchantment only to take it away?" But the musician who purportedly resides there could very well seem absent.
You may then go through a bizarre kind of withdrawal, becoming excruciatingly lonely and bitter, lashing out at your fellow lyres, calling them liars and cheats for trying to don a halfway merry tune, let alone anything vaguely akin to your beloved's inimitable lilt... And in throes of extravagant desperation you might even contemplate the consoling prospect of "joining" your dearly departed...
But you have to know deep down that there is no "joining" the music. The lyre is gone; so too is the magic which sprang from it.
There's just this.
Just what's left...
(In all it's seemingly bleak and confounded persistence.)
But for as long as you exist, you will always remember the impression which that wondrous music made upon you. Later, when it becomes bearable, you will try to preserve the music, in your own small way, reliving and construing as best you can some of the intricate details which comprised your loved one's life and thoughts. Perhaps someone who hears a small piece of it will also love it and pass it on. The music will get muddied and buried at times, butchered by well meaning out-of-tuners, lost and rediscovered. Invented, reinvented. It won't ever be perfect, but at least it will be.
And that, in the end, was the point.
It all depends
on the weight of your regrets.
If you know
you did all you could
loved and forgave
the unforgivable unlovable
things between you
you won't have to come back
as you will have never left
to hate on yourself
in an endless inner conversation
of what you should have said
when they did what they did
in a past
so far away
they wouldn't remember
even if they were still here.
If you are off
on that quest to change the unchangeable
you'll be gone for a very long time.
Your Exo/Endo Hellscape
I'm not a scientist. My parents were, but it didn't take.
Anyway - there's this concept of exothermic and endothermic. Something endothermic absorbs heat and causes the surrounding temperatures to drop; something exothermic releases heat and causes the surrounding temperatures to rise. There's a fun physics joke of "Is Hell Exothermic or Endothermic?" (go Google it, I'll wait - aww heck, here's a link: https://www.albany.edu/faculty/miesing/teaching/assess/hell.html)
But back to your query: I would say first step is identifying your personal Hellscape here. Are you exothermic or endothermic? Do you give off love - i.e. loving folks caused your processes to radiate energy and thereby absorbed your excess heat and passion in a healthy fashion - or do you absorb it, effectively giving off a cool vibe whilst silently taking all that you can from folks to the point where without their love you feel you no longer have a source of heat? If one of these two processes sounds morally superior than the other that's not the case; both are valid methods of operating. An exothermic person may require the coolness of endothermic friends/family/partners to absorb their excess energy, just as an endothermic person may thrive on others and remain steadfast/loyal to them in the process.
The point to identifying your personal Hellscape is to best understand how to deal with it. If you've lost a main source of heat, then finding another seems the logical solution; maybe it's another person, or perhaps it's another group or space that provides that comfort. If you've lost the person who absorbed your own passion, then maybe finding alternate channels - again, possibly art/hobbies not just another person - could be your means of avoiding an unwarranted explosion. Either way it's important to identify what you need before moving on to find it. Otherwise folks might give advice and it won't take; only you know you.
And whether exothermic or endothermic, Hell is nothing if not personal.
I have died
I have held the suicide hotline in my hand, ready to press the number. I have curled up on train platforms, the cement ground touching my face, and I have picked my day of death twice.
It all comes down to a conversation where I lost someone I love. In my writing, I try to make the words flow. Sometimes they don't come, and I'm stuck in bed at 2am, hearing the pay phone dial tone like an erotic whisper. The one where she hung up on me, while I was in the hospital. When words fail, there's nothing but pain.
She's not dead. Not even close. She goes to Harvard, she's married and has three 'fur babies.' I'm some deadbeat who writes for s___ and giggles. Maybe someone will hear me in the internet void. She saves lives, or is studying to. She is better than me.
She is better than me. She is better than me. She is better than me.
I made a mistake. I didn't apologize. Not even over the hospital's pay phone. I didn't even cry until after she had hung up. I don't know if I'm repressed. Maybe I am. I went back to sleep and didn't wake up for three days. I texted her when I got out and she didn't respond for hours.
I'll never recover from the mistake I made. I didn't know, before she disowned me as her sister, that you can die while you're still alive. That is something I will never recover from. It's a sprained ankle that I didn't go to Urgent Care for, and now I'll limp forever. She doesn't love me in the same way, in the same amount. If I had a penny for every time I think about what a piece of s___ I am because of it, I would be able to afford the cost of fifteen million plane tickets to visit her, but they would be as useless as the pennies themselves.
I don't know how to recover from it. That's my answer. In filling out a response to this prompt, I thought I had something to say. Maybe I don't. And maybe that's the problem. I have no words. One of us will go to the other one's funeral, because one of us will die first. And there will be words uttered there. Words like, I'm sorry for your loss. But she's already chosen to lose me. And that's where I'm stuck on this prompt. Because how do you find words, or emotions, or thoughts, when you've already sealed the coffin on the relationship?
There's no real answer to death and I'm not sure there's an answer to what happens after someone decides you're a toxic piece of trash.
I went to the hospital for her. To save our relationship.
Click, goes the dial tone. I hear it in my sleep. I'll hear it after I'm dead.
It's funny how that sound can come up in casual conversation, conversations where she doesn't ask me about how I'm doing. Harvard's so great, she says, eyes glistening. I can't see them glisten, but through texting, there's a certain emoting that comes through with certain emojis. If she were an emoji, she'd be the little smiley one with a pink face. I see her as bubbly, punctuating my life with pain. Punctuating my life with little moments of regret and stupid responses to meaningful prompts.
Don't even try.
Try, but not much.
Keep it slow going.
I don't know.
Regress to day 1.
Start back at day 2.
Well, here is the bad news. You can try as you may, but you'll go through all those days for a very long day.
A few years later:
Nope, somehow memories still appear.
Always moving forward, with a rearview mirror.
You Never Do
I’m going to tell you what others won’t:
It’s tough to discover that you’ll never recover from the loss of a lover.
You’ll try to bend so that you can mend
the many pieces of your broken
Yet, as you do
You’ll come to see
those pieces simply don’t fit back
together so effortlessly.
So, then you begin a new pursuit to reboot yourself,
so that you can love another.
You put forth the effort,
but despite all attempts
the kisses you gave
the love that was made
never meant the same.
All you will do is simply compare
the love that you lost
to what you once had-your
greatest love of all.
And finally you will come to terms
that such a true love comes
around only once.
And then you will realize:
you’ll never, no never
ever recover from a love that was
How do you mourn with grace and dignity, with some hope of seeing the other side?
For myself, I learned saying goodbye to the things that make me who I am, and the people who I loved in little steps with a lot of help from special friends and therapists along the way.
The first rule I learned? Nothing is permanent in your life. Life can change completely in an instant so never miss an opportunity to tell those you love how you feel. Even if it feels awkward and embarrassing, it will help you when the time comes to say goodbye.
Also, weigh the benefits of confronting those you love with the results of traumatic events in your past. Can you live with losing all the good things you have together for the relief of pain from the trauma? In my case I never told my parents about the abuse I suffered from the babysitter. I've never told my sister either. I'm in my mid-sixties now, and probably in the first generation to benefit from serious counseling and therapy for childhood sexual abuse.
My parents came from a world where you pushed down the pain, put on a brave face and continued. My mother had suffered her own abuses as a teenager and only slipped twice in her lifetime to let me see past the angry mask she hid behind. The knowledge that she missed what happened to me would have destroyed her.
My father held his own PTSD in check with an iron will. The years he spent a communications officer in the army haunted him and he used physical labor to sweat it out. Whether it was turning the dirt in our vegetable garden, doing repairs around the house, or the menial job of general labor around construction sights, he sweated to keep those memories from surfacing. At least he would talk about it when a particular event in our lives triggered an unavoidable flashback.
Going on to my marriage to the love of my life, we shared everything about the abuses and horrors of our childhood. He supported me through the debilitating surfacing of suppressed childhood events which took me to my knees and through my therapy and the thick journals I wrote, we learned never to take our lives together for granted. We made a pact early on, never go to bed angry with each other. Even when it meant we were up all night talking, and it happened many times over a thirty four years before he passed away. We made it a prime directive in our relationship. That and the last words we said at night, at the end of a telephone conversation, or when we parted for any other reason, were I love you.
Those rules we set were my salvation when he passed away after a long fight the congestive heart failure and the depression which put him on disability for the last ten years of his life. When glimmers of his old self popped through the black fog that made him into a grumpy bear, we talked all night. We knew those flashes were rare and we took advantage to sustain us both through the horror of the everyday struggle to breathe for one more day. The very last thing we said to each other was I love you.
I applied that rule to my parents and ended my conversations with them with the same three little words. Even when I had to deal with the complex feelings resulting from abuse. they didn't know about I kept the I love you as foremost in importance.
I started it and kept it going, knowing love is an unconditional gift to the spirit of a person, unaffected by the actions and deeds which often interfere with the acceptance that love was there all along. I started the tradition during the turmoil of moving out and falling in love with a man they wouldn't have chosen for me. They picked it up and it continued until the last time I talked to either of them.
There were times we didn't like each other at all, but we loved each other none the less.
That is the point of this whole exercise, to let love govern everything we do, and know forgiveness comes because of it no matter how we hurt each other along the way. We do cause pain, because under it, we know love is the spine for those lifelong relationships and is separate from the behaviors which challenge it to survive.
I am still trying to get my sister to understand this little gem. She has never been able to separate the deed from the spirit of a person. I hope I can get her to understand, even though I've had to put her at an emotional distance because of her behavior. I still love her no matter what. It's her actions that are toxic, not her soul.
Such a simple thing, but it is the hardest thing to understand and so freeing when it finally becomes the guiding principle behind the way you live.
There's no going back to what it was. When you lose someone you love, something inside of you changes forever. And just like a crumpled up piece of paper never goes back to being perfect again, we'll never be ourselves again, not like before. Because everything that reminds you of them will never look the same. It will bring you joy some days and infinite pain in others. It will bring you to your knees crying and it will make you smile your brightest smile.
There's no formula to grieving and there's no perfect time to heal. Some people never do, even nine, fifteen years later, the wound is still just as open as in day one. And other people will learn how to live with that small piece of them that is now gone, that part of them that only existed when that significant other was there. Me, I'm in between.
You change, and that's the only constant in losing someone you love. And the more you try to go back to what it was, the more you will suffer. They're gone, but their memories are just as alive as they ever were. Even when they start to fade, because time tries to take it all away, we'll always remember what they meant to us. Sometimes, I feel sad because I can't remember what my granddad's voice sounded like, sometimes I cry because I remember how much he loved me and how often he would show it.
I still cry, even with almost ten years to heal, and I have healed plenty. But I don't hate to miss them, my grandpa and my aunt. I love to remember everything that they meant to me in the twelve years we spent together. It hurts, but I don't regret one single day I spent with them.
And that's losing the ones we love.
Brown Eyed Girl
There is more than one way to lose someone. For instance, gradually over time their behavior changes until they ultimately leave you, the person who would lay their own life down for them. I think this type of loss is the most painful. It is not like sudden death or a natural expected loss. What is worse, they are still alive making it their priority to avoid you (sucker punch #2).
This happened to me and I have never "come back." You never do. You cannot control the pain at Christmas or birthdays. Periodically you still cry like you did when it became a reality. The rejection sits inside you coddling with self doubt, taking up "happy space" in your heart. You become grateful for the days you are happy, pushing back the loss into short term "forget" until that song plays on the radio.
You live in fear of hearing that they have passed which would end all hope of holding them again. There is no way you can stop loving them. Nope, no coming back from this, there is nothing one can do but pray.
The Loving Way
Oh my sweet darling! It is most important to remember that we are not this physical being, rather we are the spiritual being inside.
Your beloved is no longer in that body.
No longer part of this physical realm.
Nothing you can do can bring them back or communicate with them once they are gone.
Exceptions: they can let you know they love you and they are ok by sending you 1butterflies. 2cardinals pecking on your windows.
Love is always the tie that binds, don’t be sad for your beloved has gone to a better place. Be happy. You will see them again.