|Painting: Teodor Axentowicz "Hutsul Funeral"|
Grief, with especial reference to Existential Collapse. In this concluding piece I consider the emotional response of Mourning.
Existential Collapse is incomprehensible. Existential Collapse is unheard of. We have never been here before. We have no blueprints. We have no roadmap with which to navigate our way.
However, if we get over denial, and then manage our way through three stages of grief (anger, bargaining, depression) then we may arrive at Acceptance.
In that state of Acceptance we can truly Mourn.
(Before moving on, let me make an important distinction. Mourning is not depression. Mourning is not melancholia. Mourning is not sadness, nor is it sorrow.)
Mourning is like the soft woollen cloak that wraps around us and holds in the warmth of a deep love.
Tracing the etymology of mourning is illuminating. It has Old Germanic and Old Nordic roots; roots that also give us words like memory, commemorate, and remember. So, when we mourn, we remember something.
When we think of mourners we think of those (as in the painting above) following a coffin. These followers (mourners) have lost someone, and in their following, are remembering that loved one.
Thus, we could define mourning as “remembering our love for someone, or something, that has been lost, or is about to be lost.”
It is this love, and the memory of love, that sets mourning apart from melancholia and depression. You could say that mourning is a remembering of joy, beauty, love, and connection.
Mourning, in the context of Existential Collapse, is remembering the beauty of nature. It is remembering our connection with the enormity and totality of life. It is remembering our place. It is remembering that we are all derived from, and owe our very existence to, Mother Earth.
Mourning and Acceptance are two aspects of the same understanding. Both recognise that whatever we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. When we treat the Earth with disdain, we lose our connection and humanity.
When we treat the Earth as part of us, we can remember beauty, joy, and love.
We are losing that Earth. Or, at least, we are losing our part of that Earth. And for that, we can mourn, we can remember.