Join or Log in

"The result of anticipatory grief is the painful realization that the object already contains the possibility of its non-existence. A nothingness is created. And isn’t this exactly what we saw in the debate about childhood mourning? Loss can only be mourned, we are told, when we have an idea of a person - but doesn’t the very idea of a person contain the idea of that person’s absence? The child must confront this awful spectre, which may be elaborated in the later form of a terror of ghosts and the supernatural. Even before the loved one is gone, the ghost of their disappearance is set into place. We can observe this phenomenon in adulthood when someone falls in love. They may suddenly become devastated at the idea that their partner will no longer be there one day, even if at the time they are perfectly present and manifestly devoted. In Apollonius’s drama Argonautica, Medea loves Jason so much that she says she mourns him as if he were already dead.

Freud touches on this idea of an anticipatory grief in his brief paper ‘On Transience’, written some nine months after the draft of Mourning and Melancholia in 1915. When we think about the transience of an object, there is a 'foretaste of mourning over its decease’. Time and mortality are closely bound up here, but also the sensation of love. And could it be that the emergence of anticipatory grief is a part of the birth of human love itself? Does love always involve this 'foretaste of mourning’?"

— Darien Leader, The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia, and Depression

·
Join Are.na to follow Ben Sifel