Feeling sad sucks. There are many ways to say it, in fact it could be put almost infinitely more eloquently, but the flavour of that language doesn’t match that sour taste it leaves in your chest. Whether it be that feeling of apathetic ‘ump’ or absolute intolerable heartache, there is nothing desirable about it.
But Charlie Brown was a clever boy, and I’m almost certain he was onto something when he famously said “Good Grief.” But just what’s so good about it…
What funny creatures we are, to be programmed with such emotions. Most of them make instantaneous sense. I see the pleasure in happiness, the function of fear and I can understand the irrationality of jealousy. They all serve their purpose, otherwise they would not exist. Sure, mother nature cocked up once with the appendix, which was clearly a rush job at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday. But emotions, they have a very real purpose and as anyone who has experienced grief knows, it feels very real.
So why do it to ourselves? Some evolutionary scientists believe that this emotion isn’t actually a benefit or a function, but instead the remnants of another one: seperation anxiety. When a child becomes seperated from their parents their body releases stress hormones to enable them to act and become found once more. But when we lose someone or something that is well and truly lost, that separation anxiety becomes compounded and forms grief as we struggle to find resolution. That is one of the many ideas on the emotion.
And it makes sense, but I also like to believe that there is a lesson to be learned from being such complex creatures.
When you hear of a death or even numerous deaths on the news, you understand that it is sad, but you don’t feel it. Hopefully you feel empathy towards them but you don’t know them, you don’t love them. In short, despite the many many people and things we encounter, it is only the precious few that have the power to fill the chambers of our hearts with such sweet poison.
It seems that grief is the cost we pay for loving. And it seems to me that if the cost is so high that the feeling seems bottomless, then what was lost must have been priceless, at least to us.
And if the cost of what we had is measured in grief, then it allows us to appreciate the value of what we still have. This is difficult to do round the clock, but it is important to remember from time to time and as often as we can. So that feeling of grief, although terrible, can do some good, if only for a moment. In the end, it’s the moments that make the memories. So pick up that phone, or throw those arms around someone and tell them how you feel and make something good from all that grief.