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I have been thinking a lot about grief and loss and death lately. This time of year holds a lot of difficult anniversaries for me in that regard. What I have figured out about loss and grief and death is that even though they feel very much like the absence of life, they are actually in fact the essence of it.

We cannot appreciate what we have to its fullest until it is actually gone. We may try very hard not to take the people and things in our lives we hold dearest for granted, but then life gets in the way. The monotony of day to day living often finds a way to overshadow the depth of our gratitude. The “To do lists, work and worry over our troubles clouds our best efforts to live a thankful life.

Life can only be fully understood through the complex prism of its contradictions. We can experience joy but we don’t really understand how important it is until we come face to face with pain. We require the juxtaposition of these things in order to better appreciate the value of each of them independently.

As much as loss feels like the absence of something, it is really the presence of it at its most basic level. Loss can feel overwhelming. The depth of our grief can feel insurmountable but this is actually what makes us who we are. If we did not grieve we would not understand the value of life. If we did not feel terrible sorrow from time to time we could not appreciate the delicate nature of love. It is our very sadness in loss that makes life and love so fragile in the first place. So, we need loss, grief, sorrow and even death in order to truly understand their parallels… recovery, joy, happiness and life.