Loss in Change


What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

Written by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails)

and covered by Johnny Cash

Recently, I’ve experienced a lot of loss. Less recently, I’ve experienced a lot of loss. And I will continue to experience a lot of loss. The difference between drowning in grief (I keep trying to convince myself) and short-lived sadness, is that loss is a part of change and if I look hard enough, I can see the beauty in my loss and in change.

My 2 best friends from my school days now live across the globe, one of which only moved to London a couple of months ago. I realise that in the year prior to M’s physical departure from my current life, I could have been a better friend; I hardly saw or spoke to M in that year. I mourn the lost time with M in that year now that M is in London. I mourn the time that I currently don’t have with M. But I know that M is where they need to be and appreciate that M has far more courage to face change and to step outside of their comfort zone than I do. Mourning seems to me to be a selfish emotion, which is not necessarily a negative. There will always be loss in life and now I know the importance of cherishing my connections and the importance that I nurture these people: my family.

School friendships are intense and are forces that impacted me so much in ways that I am only just discovering, over 10 years later. I realise that I am so lucky to have had M and E in my life them. I am so lucky to have them now, even though they are in other countries. The loss of them is an opportunity to reflect on why I remained friends with them. Both M and E, in their own way, have characteristics that I sometimes, or always, lack.  They witnessed me change over a long time. I am sad they we can’t do the same for each other at this time. “What have I become, my sweetest friend? Everyone I know, goes away in the end.” I see them as all the more special because of their difference to me, and why I admire them and kept them close.

A close family friend, who I have known since my birth, died 2 weeks ago. For me, another’s death always brings with it existential thoughts. All too often, I under appreciate the limited time of existence. As an atheist, I do not think there is a life together forever more. Some might think that this perspective is bleak, but I don’t. It heightens my awareness of each moment, and develops my compassion for all people, for each person’s loved ones “goes away in the end”. This loss and grief is experienced by thousands every day. This inevitable change awaits us all, yet through experiencing this loss of others, brings an opportunity to appreciate the now.

I don’t fear my death. Perhaps this is a worrying statement from a depressive, but I fear the impact that my death will have on others. I fear the emotional and existential damage that my nieces, parents, fuck, anyone that knows me, may experience. I’m not terribly important, but I don’t want the people that I love to grieve my loss. My experience of loss and grief has made me cling to these connections. My connections keep me on the precipice between non-existence and being. I will plant my feet, take root and grow. Like the soil, people will nourish me, and I will shade them.

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