Why do we mourn?

When we mourn a  lost loved one, is it because we feel bad for the person that is gone?  Or is it because we feel bad forourselves for losing someone?  And if thisis the case, aren’t we being selfish and self centered for crying when someone has “left us” ?  How can we stop being this way?  Can we not be this way?  Maybe we can stop thinking about our own personal “misery” when someone happens to leave this world.

Is it our purpose in life to grieve those who leave us?  Or should we be happy that they have left this world of suffering and confusion, with hopes that they have transferred into a better state of existence? And if we  believe in the afterlife, why still mourn?  And if we don’t believe in the afterlife, do we mourn because there is no hope of ever seeing the loved one who left when it is time for us to depart also?  The simple answer is that we mourn and suffer because of our loss.  In other words, we feel sorry for ourselves.

We don’t like to think about death.  It petrifies most of us. It is the ultimate experience that seemingly puts an end to our current existence.  We don’t know for sure what awaits us on the other side, so we rather ignore the fact that it will happen at all.  But deep down, we know it will. And we temporarily escape this reality by living superficial lives that continuously feed our egos.  We live as if there is no death waiting for us.  We live concerned about superficial and artificial affairs.  We worry about our looks, our possessions, our relationships, our jobs, our unachieved personal goals.  We try very hard to hold on to traits and characteristics that help to fabricate a false sense of security and immortality.  We like to pretend that we are not vulnerable.  Or we try to hide  and distant ourselves from others so that we are not vulnerable.  Either way, we are avoiding and ignoring the fact that we are eventually going to cease to exist on this earth.

We tend to fill our emptiness with the presence of others in our lives.  Do we prefer others to be on our side so that they can fulfill our needs?  If this sounds cold and inconsiderate, maybe it is.  But please bare with me for a moment and think about this.  We tend to try to make ourselves complete through others’ contributions, successes, and accomplishments.  There is nothing wrong when we feel happy when our children succeed in school, sports, and other special events.  But we cross the line when we become obsessed and angry when the children that we raise don’t meet our expectations.  Almost as if they have not represented us good enough to the rest of the world. We demand them to do this and do that, wanting to create little duplicates of ourselves.  Eager to see them meet our demands so that we can use them as trophies.    How self centered can we be?

We also become depressed when our significant others decide to leave us.  We are upset when our favorite political candidate loses the election.  We become upset when our favorite sports team loses a game.  We just don’t like to lose.  We simply don’t want to experience the emptiness that we perceive after we have tried to fill it up with others’ success.  And when this happens, we tend to try to fill up the emptiness again with another sports game, or another political candidate, or another boyfriend or girlfriend.  We keep trying to keep ourselves full.  Full of artificial fulfillment.

But there is nothing wrong with emptiness.  Really.  We are scared of emptiness, because it reminds us of death.  But emptiness is actually liberation.  It is a refreshing experience.  It can hurt, but it always heals.  It heals us from the pain that we have caused ourselves by trying to fill ourselves with artificial happiness, to simply find ourselves back to the reality of our emptiness. We try to pretend we have it all together.  We like to live the fantasy of owning our lives.

But the reality is that, nothing is really ours.  Nothing belongs to us.  Not even our bodies, the children we raise, the houses we live in, or the land we grow up in.  Nothing is ours.  On the contrary, we belong to each other, we belong to this earth, we belong to the greater universe.  We belong to God.

Should we ever mourn?  Sure.  We should mourn when others who are still among us suffer.  We should mourn when the next door neighbor has nothing to eat.  When the children of this world suffer from hunger, abuse, wars, and famine. We should mourn for each other, while we all still live.

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10 thoughts on “Why do we mourn?

  1. Pingback: honeyimalesbian
  2. You are so wrong. I doubt you have ever lost someone dear to you or have the capacity for any genuine feelings. How sad you are so arrogant about what others feel that you even dare to suggest the total BS here.

    • I am sorry if this post offended you in any way. I don’t expect people to agree with my thoughts. Yes, I have lost people who were dear to me. But the message was to emphasize about taking care of the living before they depart. Peace.

      • It didn’t offend me any more than any example of insensitivity to the sensibilities of others usually does. I maintain, you have little awareness of how others feel after some losses. Unexpected and particularly cruel losses are not the same as the passing of someone who goes too quickly and without visible reason.

        Perhaps if you explored the feelings of someone who has lost a dear one under those circumstances, your views would change. You seem to think that, if we love and care for someone while they are alive, we should be able to shrug off their passing as of little import.

    • John says:

      He is not wrong. Mourning is a selfish act. Why being sad for a dead person? Because YOU lose someone. And YOU feel bad about it. His point is that misplaced “compassion” could be oriented towards people in need.

      That being said, being totally detached emotionally from a person who died, especially when you are close, and the person dies in a horrible way, IS a hard process.

      If you had control over your emotions, would still chose to mourn a dead person? If yes, why?

      And please try to understand someone point of view, before countering with bricks, seriously… This is not a white or black debate.

      • If mourning is a selfish act, Jesus is selfish and it’s perfectly acceptable to be selfish. When Lazarus died, Jesus wept. Jesus commanded us to mourn with those that mourn. If it was selfish, it would not be a commandment.

  3. As someone who lost a son, I can see Noel’s point. I mourn my son’s death and still feel sad that he’s not here with me. But I know that it’s about my feelings. We all die at some point and a parent does not expect to lose a child. But life is not guaranteed. So I mourn the things that my son was not able to do in this life. His missed opportunities. He died at 24. I miss him and not knowing if I will ever see him again is very painful. But let’s put things in reverse, what if I had died instead of him. I would be feeling nothing and he would be the one in pain. So maybe we need to acknowledge our sadness for what it is. We are mourning “our” loss. The fact that that person will no longer be there to provide whatever comfort we were getting from them. Death is part of life. One cannot die, unless one is alive. And as humans we have done an abominable job of preparing ourselves for the inevitable. We act in shock every time someone dies as if this were an anomaly. It is not. Death is life. Is the fear of the unknown, that keeps us in denial.

    • Arrantalba, thanks for commenting. I am sorry about your loss. I have children of my own and I don’t know what it’s like to lose them. But you’re absolutely right when you write that we do not prepare for the inevitable death. We need to live as if this was the last time . We need to live life fully. Fear of the unknown is what keeps us in a fantasy denying our mortality.

  4. I’m ok with arguments being made for the “selfishness” of mourning, without taking that as a “negative” thing… maybe it is the wording that could be taken as offensive since selfishness as a “value” is seen as “bad”. But sometimes selfishness can be a good thing – its just the idea of the focus being on one’s self – not others. THat isn’t ALWAYS a bad thing…. maybe we mourn because we NEED to mourn. Because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have any way to gauge what that person meant to us, or what we learned from them, or maybe it is another way of experiencing our LOVE for them. Doesn’t mean it is a bad thing to selfishly mourn – IF that is what we are doing. But you had me the whole way through until the very last paragraph… when you said essentially “now here are some times when it would be better to mourn”. I don’t think with the argument you are making about us not really NEEDING to mourn the death of others, except for selfish reasons… and then say there are other times we “should” be mourning… because those reasons to mourn would be equally as selfish… in your theory. Because WE do not experience the suffering of others – just like it is not us who dies. We mourn the experience as it relates to US – and how it makes OURSELVES feel. So if someone is starving – that doesn’t mean we are starving – so to mourn is again in your theory, to be acknowledging our own selves and our own feelings on the matter. To say “we should mourn for each other while we are still alive” actually goes against your original idea – that we don’t actually mourn for each other at all – we mourn for ourselves. So you may want to re-examine that because the last paragraph came out of left field to me, and seems to contradict everything else you just wrote! And i was with you on the argument, regardless of whether i agreed or not! It was a solid argument right up until that last point!

    • Val Halla, thank you for commenting and for your feedback. I re-examined the post as you suggested. Yes I agree that we mourn for each other while still alive as it relates to us. But the difference is that we mourn when other fellow human beings , like ourselves, are suffering because we relate to that suffering . We know what it’s like to suffer and experience empathy. And because we can relate to that suffering, we can then practice compassion and mercy. But when we mourn when a fellow human being dies, can we practice compassion to the deceased person? Can empathy be manifested then? It can only be done to ourselves who experienced the loss . So my point was more about helping each other in times of need, in an unselfish way, while still alive. It can be regarded as a selfish act if we are stuck on the idea that “I feel bad for them”, but it can move beyond this state of self mourning by moving out of our comfort zone and reaching out to others in need . I hope I made it more clear now. Thanks.

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