Coming off the grief ride


for now

when your insides have been shredded you’re extra defensive, extra distant, extra tender

what you allow to touch you, which isn’t a lot, goes deep

when you feel you feel everything

you feel with everything

you go deep and drown in the feelings

but you learn to swim in those depths

learn how to come up for air again


the feeling of breathing

i’m breathing


I’ve been rereading the posts here i did about grief, and a whole lot more writing on it that i haven’t put here and i’m thinking to turn it into a book about grief, grief trauma, what it all means, processing it from a Buddhist & psychological standpoint…starting again. from the ashes. something.

On silence, states of exception and grace

-a postscript dispatch from the grief process

[I am completing this post, started weeks ago, as my elderly mother is in hospital via the emergency room more than a thousand kilometers away. We, that is family, and the doctors, at the moment, don’t know why, other than her intense pain, or what will happen. I am writing in a state of suspension and insomnia.]



There is no silence in the world.
Monks have created it
to hear the horses every day
and feathers falling from wings.

~Nikola Madzirov quoted in World Poetry Portfolio #53: Nikola Madzirov

At a certain point last year I stopped writing the grief dispatches that I had been doing here after Manoj suddenly died in January. Part of it was because less than 3 months later, in April 2014, I lost someone else who had been very close to me especially when I was younger. She was my best friend when we were in our late teens and throughout our 20s. It was also very sudden and hard to believe.

There were no words for that portion of the grief process when it got REALLY REAL. Initially it had felt like being thrown of a cliff—a sense of everything falling away, nothing there. It was unreal like a strong breeze from a fan on your body. What is that feeling? You’re not floating. You’re not flying. Yet something is passing over, and later I discovered, through you.

I tried in various ways to make sense of it. I wrote blog posts here about some of that process. But at a certain point I gave up and started to resign myself to being unresolved in that empty valley of winds and shadows.

But I found I could not rest in that. Pain, even if you’re quite disconnected from it and not consciously feeling it, tends to shuffle the deck of one’s motivations, desires, habits, thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Something had to be done so I decided to retreat in a lot of ways to deal with myself. [Sorry for all the Facebook unfriending, emails that went unanswered, visits cancelled, and all the rest. This is what it was about. “It’s not you it’s me.” Really.]

One reason I retreated in that way was because it was happening anyways. When you are in a state of exception, that is for whatever reason outside the flow of the everyday or the status quo or “normal” life, be it illness, death, divorce, or other disruptive situation, people tend to pull away from you. Initially they express sympathies, condolences or whatnot, but at a certain point the state of exception becomes more clearly demarcated. This demarcation can become what is termed social death. That is when a person is somehow viewed by others and even at times by themselves, as somehow less than a fully human participant in society. The term is used often to describe the circumstances of racism and slavery where people are assigned to a category in which their life is of little value in social terms when such value defaults to the oppressor’s definitions. It is also used where people are shunned from a circumstance with words like, “You are dead to me”. Those are very deliberate situations practiced consciously.

Where social death is not circumscribed so clearly but evidences itself nonetheless there is social invisibility. You see this as people step around homeless people or as people talk over the excluded person in a conversation as if they are not even there.

In more amorphous circumstances still, social death signifies some kind of change of status or becoming marked in some way, often by being seen in terms of lack. If you lose your job, get divorced, or are diagnosed with an illness for example, people step away. Sometimes they run, but usually they try to be discrete about it and inch towards the door instead.

You become awkward for people to deal with. You are “problematic”. You have slipped from the position that social consciousness once recognized into some grey area that is difficult to categorize and handle with the ease of the usual social scripts. People may just become distant and call it “giving you your space”—even when space is all you’ve got and you don’t really need any more of it–or they may in worse cases resort to sarcasm, callousness and so on as a way of keeping emotional distance from someone.

The effects are internalized too. You can’t relate to them, whoever “they” may be, the way you used to because your circumstances have changed such that you may not even know what to do in a situation that depended on your previous circumstances. There might be embarrassment for you or for them. There might be fear of even further marginalization.  Even if you tried to relate, their responses would likely be altered until, and if, both you and they came to terms with such changes.

Grief by Raymond Carver

Woke up early this morning and from my bed
looked far across the Strait to see
a small boat moving through the choppy water,
a single running light on. Remembered
my friend who used to shout
his dead wife’s name from hilltops
around Perugia. Who set a plate
for her at his simple table long after
she was gone. And opened the windows
so she could have fresh air. Such display
I found embarrassing. So did his other
friends. I couldn’t see it.
Not until this morning.

Another reason I withdrew was because it was clear that I was using a lot of things to try to stuff more stuff into the vacant spaces in my life.  Like anything one uses to try to fill up a nihilistic or uncomfortable sense of lack, that works until it doesn’t any more. Then one is left with that space still along with the fallout of attempts to alleviate the situation. That space beckons to be filled, with something, with anything.

Some people’s biggest accomplishment is their misery in such circumstances. You seem to find a state that’s just bad enough to dwell in and not so bad that you go under. That’s the state I reached. I wrote a post about the initial contact with that nihilistic state here, This is Not the Emptiness You’re Looking For. It really grabbed me for a while. You don’t thrive there, you simply exist in a diminished way while you lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling with your hand in a bag of Cheetos, or on a bottle, or with a hand full of pills or what have you. It was arid and empty and I felt nothing of any consequence whatsoever. But I wanted to feel something, anything even if it was just my own damage.

When there’s the feeling of emptiness in the nihilistic sense or in the sense of lack or neediness, there is not enough of anything to fill it. Sometimes we might even fill it with pain just to have something there, something familiar even if, from a less subjective viewpoint, it might complicate things further if not make them worse. Sometimes we might even think about suicide, which I wrote about here, Ghosts and Imagination (also stuff there about Walter Benjamin and equanimity which briefly is neither accepting or rejecting, just engaging)

Pain is easy to grab on to. There’s plenty of it around and plenty of ways to inflict it on each other and on ourselves. Humans are really good at manufacturing and distributing pain and even simulations of pain. There are whole industries devoted to pain distribution now-arms dealers, military contractors, prison systems. That’s besides the pain related epiphenomenon that occurs in commercial enterprises, entertainment, schools and families.

Pain and suffering is sometimes glorified in Christian influenced societies. Some who have suffered harder than others are even made saints by the Catholic church. That’s not to say that pain isn’t glorified in the secular arena as well by those who “play through their injuries” or stood up to a beating “like a man”, the US gives purple heart medals to wounded soldiers, and so on. One is expected to not only embody their pain but embrace it even harder.

This “lean-in” approach is extremist. It doesn’t deal with what is but creates a more intense and artificial situation. It manufactures a false circumstance that can easily bring about a false sense of victory. [Hope some of my Zen friends are hearing that.]

That lean-in type of catharsis is not a road I wanted to go down when I decided to retreat and deal with what was happening. The point was to remove obstacles, or let them fall away, not build a higher artificial wall around them to be cleared first.


“If we go down into ourselves, we find that we possess exactly what we desire.”    ― Simone Weil

Everyone has their own way of introspecting. I’ve meditated for more than 25 years and practiced some cognitive-behavioural techniques so was pretty familiar with my subjective landscape. This, however was all new territory.

Grief is like a strange doppelganger that you carry around inside of you, that sometimes trades places with you and you try to hide from, until one day it slips out and sits across from you and you look into it’s eyes. I’m using (very mixed) metaphors of course but at a certain tipping point emotional baggage can shift in pretty sudden and unexpected ways. This can feel like panic and a loss of control. That loss of control is necessary to some degree in order to resolve the inner dilemma.

Self-examination, particularly when it turns to self-critique, can become a rigid, disciplinary exercise wherein one becomes an ideologue parroting acceptable phrases, rather than undertaking a useful process of learning and growth. That generally happens when the processing is all done on an intellectual level, that is, in the head. Emotion is disciplined into a corner and ideas take over. Intellectualization of this type is a psychological defense mechanism with the purpose of protecting one’s sense of self, esteem and to rationalize behaviour. It can also become rather cold and heartless.  It was somewhat useful to intellectualize as I had to close up our apartment and deal with the practical matters of death along with his family members. But it becomes all empty again, as all psychological defense mechanisms ultimately do if the situations they are invoked to mask is not dealt with.

So I had to abandon that approach, which I’ll admit is my favourite because I’m really good at it, if I wanted to deal with myself. That left me kind of lost and I went into depression off and on for a few months. Eh, it was something.

In that kind of state dissatisfaction is rife, as is anger and a lot of other stuff, but it’s still pretty much under the surface. You still can’t feel it really except during brief and often unintentional flare ups. Once more something had to be done because that felt like a deep hole too.

Finally I said “I really need to contact somebody who understands”.  Finally I decided to contact Manoj’s friends, who were/are also my friends. We were now on different continents and hadn’t spoken much after the initial couple of months.  One of them said, “You are welcome to come home any time, we have been waiting for you.” That broke me. Totally. An unqualified, unconditional statement of care. No amount of thinking could have brought me to that solution. It was the pure need for human connection. It wasn’t just for me either..people had been waiting.

One thing I have learned is that there is no silence no matter how silently one retreats. Not even in emptiness–of any variety. Life is very full—it is blossoming, withering, exploding, expanding, coagulating, entwining, decaying, convulsing–fecund and noisy in other words.


“The sea is not less beautiful in our eyes because we know that sometimes ships are wrecked by it.”
― Simone Weil, Waiting for God

When people talk of grace they usually mean divine grace, that is some sort of blessing from a deity that frees someone from suffering and torment. I have no God of any kind to which I might direct such an appeal.

I would not have been able to write this post without the presence of friends. I call it friends because there’s not a better word I can think of. It’s the place where the possibilities of human connection and love really begin. It is the place where one says, maybe in not so many words, “I am prepared to hurt for you, and with you.”

So no possibilities without those friends of the past, those who I am bound to in the present, and those I hope will be friends in the future. Without them I would not have realized much of this. Mostly though it is because of Manoj and Marina, two people who were willing to dive deep with me, laugh with me and hurt with me and I with them, that let me know I was nothing to be scared of, and that nor were other people, in themselves, scary.

What I have found, through them all, is grace. I realize that it has been there all along.

Our planet is poorly equipped for delight.
One must snatch gladness from the days that are.
In this life
it’s not difficult to die.
To make life
is more difficult by far.

~Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, from To Sergei Esenin


Rage and Grief

-a dispatch from the grief process

This past week has been crap. I’m too tired to have mindless rage but plenty of other people aren’t.

So this is for all of them.


Here’s a transcript somebody did on YouTube. I’ve not checked it for accuracy.

Speaking from rage does not always let us see how rage carries sorrow and covers it over.

So I cannot do it well. At least not this evening. How often is sorrow effectively shouted down by rage? How does it happen that sorrow can bring about the collapse of rage? Is there something to be learned about the sources of non-violence from this particular power of grief to deflate rage of its destructiveness?

Ann Carson asks “Why does tragedy exist? And then answers, because you are full of rage. Why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief. Ask a headhunter why he cuts off human heads. He’ll say that rage impels him and rage is born of grief. The act of severing and tossing away the victim’s head enables him to throw away all of his bereavements. You may think this does not apply to you yet you recall the day your wife, driving you to your mother’s funeral, turned left instead of right at the intersection and you had to scream at her so loud, other drivers turned to look. When you tore her head off and threw it out the window, they nodded, changed gears, drove away.” End quote.

The grief is unbearable and from that unbearability one kills; a killing that produces more grief. Have we yet figured out exactly how this works, the transition from unbearable grief to uncontrollable rage and destructiveness?

Perhaps grief is imagined to end with violence as if grief itself could be killed. Can we perhaps find one of the sources of non-violence in the capacity to grieve, to stay with the unbearable loss without converting it into destruction? If we could bear our grief would be less inclined to strike back or strike out? And if the grief is unbearable is there another way to live with it that is not the same as bearing it?

We know the contours of this terrible circle; destroying to stop the unbearable grief, to bring an end to the unbearable only to then redouble that loss by destroying again. Perhaps that destructive act is a way of announcing that what is unbearable is now someone else’s problem, not mine. “Here, you take this unbearable thing. Now it belongs to you.”

But, has anyone ever stopped grieving by devastating another’s life? What is the fantasy, the conceit at work in such an act? Perhaps the wager is that this I, in destroying, suddenly becomes pure action, finally rid of passivity and injurability. Finally, that is, for a passing moment.

Or perhaps in destroying one insists that the rest of the world become mired in one’s own sense of devastation. If the world is unlivable without those whom one has lost, perhaps there emerges a despairing form of egalitarianism according to which everyone should suffer this devastation.

The destructive acts born of unbearable grief are perhaps premised on the thought that with this loss everything is already destroyed so destroying becomes a redundancy, a ratification of what has already happened.

But perhaps there is an effort to bring grief to a full stop through taking aim at the world in which such a grief is possible, rolling over into a form of destructiveness that furiously proliferates more loss, wantonly distributing the unbearable.

Of course what is unbearable is already more than what one can bear so how can there be any more of that which is already too much? This terrible form of the ineffable is loosed upon the world in that furious form of grieving known as destructiveness. We may ask, is there a satisfaction in such destruction, or indeed, a satisfaction to be found in war. Freud tells us that certain forms of destructiveness yield no pleasure, no satisfaction, but churn on in a nearly mechanical way repeating without even any final satisfaction in revenge.

And yet there are, as we know, sometimes terrible satisfactions in war; the kinds of satisfactions that must be resisted. Peace is only very occasionally a quiescent state. For the most part it is merely a struggle against destructiveness; the practice of resisting the terrible satisfactions of war.

So what is my plea? Do I counsel more grief? Do I think that an exponential increase in grief will produce less destructiveness in the world? No, I do not if only because grief does not submit to mathematical measures. Grief is not just about registering the reality that someone or some group or some whole population is gone or nearly gone. It’s not a straightforward process that comes to an end when a reality principle delivers its verdict. Yes, the one or ones you are grieving are definitively gone. And it does not even conclude when we find ourselves having more or less successfully incorporated a lost one into our psychic reality; our gestures, clothing, our ways of thinking, and modes of speech.

Mourning has to do with yielding to an unwanted transformation where neither the full shape and nor the full import of that alteration can be known in advance.
This transformative effect of losing always risks becoming a deformative effect. Whatever it is, it cannot be willed. It is a kind of undoing. One is hit by waves in the middle of the day, in the midst of a task. And everything stops. One falters, even falls.

What is that wave that suddenly withdraws your gravity and your forward motion? That something that takes hold of you and makes you stop takes you down?

Where does it come from? Does it have a name?

What claims us at such moments when we are most emphatically not masters of ourselves and our motion, when we lose certain people or when we are dispossessed from a place or a community. It may be that something about who we are suddenly flashes up, something that delineates the ties we have to others that shows us that we are bound to one another. And that the bonds that compose us also do strand us, leave us uncomposed.

If I lose you under the conditions in which who I am is bound up with you then I not only mourn the loss but I become inscrutable to myself, and this life unbearable. Who am I without you? I was not just over here and you over there but the I was in the crossing, there with you but also here. So I was already decentred, one might say, and that was precious and yet when we lose, we lose our ground. We are suddenly at risk of taking our own lives or the lives of others. Perhaps what I have lost on those occasions is precisely that sense that I can live without you even if it turns out that I can live without that specific you that you happened to be. Even if I was surprised to find that I survived when survival was unthinkable. If I can and do live without you, it’s only because I have not, as it were, lost the place of you; the one to whom I address myself. The generalized addressee with whom I am already bound up in language in a scene of address that is the linguistic condition of our survivability. This apostrophic you may be this you or that other one with another name, but maybe also some you I do not yet know at all, maybe even some vast set of you’s, largely nameless, who nevertheless support both my gravity and my motion. And without you, that indefinite, promiscuous, and expansive pronoun we are wrecked and we fall.

A loss might seem utterly personal, private, isolating. But it also may furnish an unexpected concept of political community, even a premonition of a source of non-violence.  If the life that is mine is not originally or finally separable from yours then the we who we are is not just a composite of you and me and all the others, but a set of relations of interdependency and passion. And these we cannot deny or destroy without refuting something fundamental about the social conditions of our living. What follows is an ethical injunction to preserve those bonds, even the wretched ones, which means precisely guarding against those forms of destructiveness that take away our lives and those of others beings, and the ecological conditions of life.

In other words before ever losing we are lost in the other, lost without the other. But we never knew it as well as we do when we do actually lose. This being in thrall is one way of describing the social relations that have the power to sustain and to break us way before we enter into contracts that confirm that our relations are the result of our choice. We are already in the hands of the others; a thrilling and terrifying way to begin. We are from the start both done and undone by the other. And if we refuse this, we refuse passion, life, and loss.

The lived form of that refusal is destruction. The lived from of its affirmation, is non-violence.

Perhaps non-violence is the difficult practice of letting rage collapse into grief since then we stand the chance of knowing we are bound up with others such that who I am or who you are is this living relation that we sometimes lose.

With great speed we do sometimes drive away from the unbearable or drive precisely into its clutches, or do both at once not knowing how we move or with what consequence. It seems unbearable to be patient with unbearable loss and yet that slowness, that impediment can be the condition for showing what we value and even perhaps what steps to take to preserve what is left of what we love. Thank you.

[This was found on the Critical Theory blog. ]

Ghosts and Imagination

-a dispatch from the grief process

It was M’s birthday on May 5. I was supposed to be there for it. I started writing this on May 14.

Four months since M. passed
Also on the night of the full moon
I too am only a ghost.

I want to write about grief and suicide. One of the things most grief counselors and books don’t tell you, nor is it listed in the various stages of grief or in much popular literature (it’s in the academic literature tho) is that thinking about suicide is a common grief symptom. Naturally when we’re faced with the mortality of a loved one we are also faced with the fact of our own eventual demise. Sometimes we may wish to some degree that either it had been us instead of them, or that we had died with them.

Just because someone is thinking about their own death, and because they are apparently healthy, the means to that death would probably be suicide at that point in time. This doesn’t mean they are suicidal or that they are even depressed. As soon as someone even says the word suicide people get all panicky and want to stage interventions and dope people up and so forth. Maybe we should stand down from that state of alarm and get a grip.

I was reading about the suicide of philosopher Walter Benjamin in a review essay in the LA Review of Books of a new critical biography on Benjamin that is out. The article, Colin Dickey on Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life:Shoring Against the Ruins. Benjamin was trying to escape the overtaking of Europe by the fascists and just when he was about to cross the border into Spain and be able to make his escape the border happened to be closed.

So as he was faced with that closed border and the encroaching fascists he decided to take his own life. He did so with morphine. He appeared to be out of other options. One can empathize with his predicament.

There’s more to the event though. His life had been fairly disarrayed. Lots of disappointments and failed ambitions, yet stuff he wrote was exceptional (I’m delving into Arcades right now).  Benjamin had also written and discussed suicide numerous times in his personal history without attempting it. If you read much of his writing it’s readily apparent he thought about everything, not always in a philosophical or sociological or literary way, though much of it was that way. He was something of a morose person from the accounts of those who knew him and didn’t cultivate a lot of close relationships. He comes across from those accounts as a bit of a high maintenance guy, but those tellers of his personal history may have had their own agendas as well. He was on the outs with his wife because he had affairs. He was on the outs with a lot of other scholars because some of them were duplicitous, some were perhaps jealous, some perhaps didn’t understand his point and it doesn’t seem he made any of that easy for them to do sometimes. So there were quite a few factors that went into his decision to suicide. A closed border with murderous fascists looming may have been the last straw. The next day though the border opened. It had only been a temporary closure. That’s so sad it’s not even ironic.

Anyways to think about a thing doesn’t mean one has an intention to act upon it. We think and imagine things all the time. Sometimes some of us imagine ourselves as rock stars or some kind of celebrities, we imagine ourselves having different jobs, we imagine punching our boss in the nose, we imagine ourselves having wild sexual encounters we’d never have in real life, we imagine what our lives would be like if we won a lottery, we imagine living in a utopia, we imagine sailing around the world, we imagine what it would be like to go into space, we imagine being on a winning sports team, we imagine winning an Oscar, we imagine living in a remote cabin in the woods, we imagine painting a masterpiece, we imagine our children’s futures, we imagine our countries getting better or worse after the next election, we imagine that we had won that particular argument that still plagues us to this day, we imagine having a particular kind of life with a particular partner, we imagine ourselves with a different hairstyle, we imagine ourselves with different physical features, we imagine ourselves not being lonely, we imagine ourselves being alone when we feel too crowded, we imagine what it’s like to be a certain celebrity, or historical person or fictional being, we imagine ourselves skydiving, we imagine ourselves swimming in the ocean. Sure there are other elements like hope, fear, longing, ambition, desire, and others mixed in there but the place they all play out together is in the imagination. That’s part of the purpose of imagination, to explore, to examine alternatives, to discover new perspectives, to connect with and understand other people, to assimilate our experiences, to manage our fears in a safe and fictional way, to create a basis for planning new experiences, and many other things. The purposes of imagination are myriad.

Imagination is very closely tied to empathy. Since we can’t know with absolute certainty what another human being is experiencing we have to come up with some kind of facsimile in order to empathize with them. We might think “If I was in that situation I imagine I’d feel X.” Then we test that hypothesis when we encounter that person and adjust our picture based on the feedback we get.

[As a bit of an aside, one of the dangers of this is that we can substitute our own mental model for the person’s actual experience and act from that, in which case we are involved only with our own mind and not what’s really happening. That’s an element of what Chogyam Trungpa called “Idiot Compassion” which I wrote about at length numerous times before. The main piece on that is here]

We use imagination to engender empathy. We have to do this with equanimity. If we decide we only want to have empathy for certain beings or situations, particularly those we are familiar with and block out others that’s not really employing equanimity.

Likewise when we imagine stuff we can choose to restrict it to certain comfortable and self-soothing things and try to block out anything else. This also isn’t employing equanimity.

It’s hard to imagine stuff that hurts. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for someone we loved to die. It’s hard to imagine our own deaths. If the imagining of the latter comes in the form of thoughts about suicide, which are different than thoughts that have suicidal intention behind them, then it can be somewhat distressing for some people. It can especially be distressing for those who hear about it. That’s the reason I didn’t write about it until now. I’ve been examining all that rather closely.

Thoughts like “I wish I was dead too”, “I feel like I died too” happened over the past 4 months. I looked at those thoughts and said to myself, “What should I do with that?” There was no impulse to act on it, only the occasional wish not to wake up again. The thing is that’s what happened to Manoj. He went to sleep, had a heart attack in his sleep and didn’t wake up. In my imagination I was trying to feel what he felt, trying to empathize with that situation.

I wanted to know what he felt. He’s not here to tell me. I wanted to know if it was painful and how long it took and if he was conscious of the process and if he was afraid.

These are common questions people have when a loved one dies. We all have ways to try to address them. One of those ways is to try to face our own death in some way to attempt to get an inkling of what the feeling might be. This is a really deep form of empathy. It’s pretty overwhelming. That’s why equanimity is important. We can try to push these questions away but they will persist. We will be left with feelings of unfinished business until they receive some attention.

It’s not something to panic about. If somebody talks about the way they’re dealing with these questions it’s not necessary to start panicking and shipping them off to a psychiatrist or retreat or doctor for a prescription or whatever.

You can think about something like death and suicide. It is permitted. Who’s going to stop you? It needs to be framed well though. One has to ask “Why am I thinking about this?”

I mentioned depression at the beginning of this post. That’s important. If the answer to the question of “Why am I thinking about death and suicide?” is “I want to understand what they went through.” or “I’m thinking about my own end.” or something of that nature then it can be worked through with equanimity and some sense can be made of it. If the answer is “To seek a release from my immediate pain and discomfort of grief.” then one may be moving into the feedback loop of depression (which in my view is a sort of emotional self-cannibalization—though there’s more to it than that which maybe I’ll write about some time) and that merits some attention maybe by a grief counselor or somebody like that. A thing I also think about suicide is…death is patient, it can wait for me.

So, no need to panic.

Reordering Reality

-a dispatch from the grief process

Grief is a reordering of reality. Reality as we have arranged it in our minds, in touch with the world, immersed in the world, becomes disordered when death occurs, even if we have contemplated on the meaning of death or experienced such loss of equilibrium before with the deaths of others we have known.

There are lots of descriptions of grieving processes but they seem to proceed from the abstract, conceptual realm rather than the material. That is an aspect which I think bears some examination.

Each grief episode reorders our material existence first, in that the physical body of our loved one is now non-functional and will not again become functional. Their biological existence is no more.

Then our conceptions about that person, their very “personhood” is seen to have ceased.

Then our relations with that person are recognized as being severed.

Then the contents of those relations, the particulars such as our emotions, our love and our sense of familiarity with the emotions and thoughts of our loved one are realized to be severed.

Then our assumptions, dreams, plans and future are rent asunder.

From the material to the most abstract is a long process. 

It takes quite a while to get used to.