Monday, May 25, 2015

The Existential and Psychodynamic Experience of Grief


WHILST those who experience grief are vulnerable, grief, in and of itself, isn’t set on keeping us vulnerable. There is a cool irony — a paradox of the ages — as, with grief, comes strength.
Facing that terrible existential loneliness — living as if we weren’t — leaves us, at least in our thoughts, backwashed and driven to escape. But the loneliness, when it’s fully felt, sanctifies us and grows us. We are found more intimate with our inner selves in accepting a mystery — a phenomenon that cannot ever now be changed.
Psychodynamically, there is something going on within the fissures of our emotional systems at a soul level. Deep calls to deep and only in the depths is there an answer.
Such a product is this: for the depths endured there is a cosmic compensation — a divine restitution that will serve us well. The grief is an existential phenomenon, but we have been forever won to the magic and mystery of the unfathomable. Somehow, the prospect of never knowing, of coming to the end of ourselves, teaches us a lot about life and a lot about God. We come to accept that our happiness is secondary, and we learn also the irony: when our needs are secondary in our reflections with God our contentment then is primary, and only then. We must give up what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose.
Out of the backdrop of an existence that is purgatory, we learn the simpler things of life that have the profoundest importance. We no longer sweat the small stuff. Everything of earth is fleeting; like smoke through a keyhole.
A grief encountered that made us well also makes us better. Not only is the present healed, the future bristles with possibility and the past has double meaning. A grief endured really does help us know what is important in life, and it is hardly the easy lessons that prove most valuable. Treasured acquisitions require hearty tussles!
***
Grief is at once an existential challenge that floors the best of us. Grief is also a psychoanalytic calamity, but with an incentivised driver; the purpose for going through hell is to keep going.
Grief will take us through intense feelings of pain for a purpose; to re-establish (or maybe establish) the bonds of intimacy which are borne of attachment.
Proper adjustment through grief is forwards and backwards. Existence comes to be scary, but psychodynamically we are never closer to a personal revival than when suffering comes.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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