In a letter following the death from scarlet fever of his beloved five-year-old son, American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “I chiefly grieve that I cannot grieve.” Later, in an essay, this: “The only thing grief has taught me, is how shallow it is.”
For people who love companion animals and mourn their passing, there are animal chaplains. Not that animals are religious, rather to acknowledge a growing and graced awareness that they too are spiritual beings.
We are mostly untutored in the essentials—death, loss, temporality and diminishment. Grief is ego’s response to an existential fact: “Everything passes / Everything changes.” It’s an unwillingness to let go of what’s gone.