11 Sep 2020
Sa 08 Sep 2018
Loss can come in many forms: loss of a loved one, loss of your job, loss of a relationship, loss of cities or communities and the loss of beliefs — in oneself and in others. A poetic reflection on the concept of loss and how to cope with it, inspired by Requiem pour L.
In a way, every loss is a form of death. There once existed a person, an idea, a dream, a realization — all those things brought meaning into our life. Now we are faced with the realization that things will never be the way they were. We won’t be able to experience and feel the same way. We are forced to feel an emptiness that seems to last an eternity and deal with the scary word ‘never’: we will never get another chance to tell the person we lost that we love them one more time, they won’t be able to hear us. We will never be able to go back into being the person we were before the accident that left us losing a limb. The physical phantom pain we experience might leave us feeling like a ghost. We are falling into a void. There is a hole, a pitch black bottomless pit. And in most cases loss happens fast and unexpectedly. There’s no time for goodbyes. There are no second chances. There is no plan b. Never means: it’s gone. Gone means: a little piece of you left forever. It’s destroyed or broken and no matter how detailed you try to put the pieces back together, it won’t be the same. Ever. Necessarily, that is also a new beginning.
There are many ways to cope with loss. In Japanese culture the philosophy of Wabi-Sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing is perfect, nothing is finished and nothing lasts forever. Imperfections are being embraced and instead of dismissing flaws, they are being seen as strengths. When a vase gets broken, the pieces are put back together again and the cracks are filled with gold. The gold could stand for the strength of existing, despite previous destruction. It could also stand for memories and learnt lessons along the way, which no one will be able to take away from you. Ever. It can also represent the fact that because of the people in your life — living and dead — you are now more than you were before. They truly made you golden.
But how to put the pieces back together?
When someone you love dies, there is no such thing as moving on. Healing is an individual process that happens at your own timing and with an individual intensity. There is a process everyone goes through with different stages along the way: denial, anger, bargaining (also known as the ‘if only’ stage), depression and acceptance.
Different cultures have different rituals to cope with grief and to honour the dead. Some see it as an inevitable end. Some believe in reincarnation. Some celebrate and engage in big parties. Some don’t mourn loss in the traditional way, which we might have in mind, but instead, they celebrate life.
In Requiem pour L., theatre director Alain Platel and composer Fabrizio Cassol come together in order to honour L., an elderly Flemish lady, whose last living moments are captured on video
and projected on stage during the performance. The musical soundtrack is based on Mozart’s Requiem, the musical piece that made him legendary. Macabre enough, he composed it right before his death: ‘I fear I am writing a requiem for myself’.
Fourteen musicians from different continents are collaborating with each other in an attempt to reconstruct this musical piece with their individual musical influences. Together they create a fusion between genres like jazz, opera, and African music. Alain’s research entailed ways to find visual and physical translations of associations and pictures that would come to mind while listening to a Requiem. Especially Mozart’s seems to be layered and profound. A beautiful beginning with the feeling of having to let go soon. Yet, you not only hear a sense of melancholy, but also hope. A ray of light. A flying soul. A new beginning.
No matter what your personal way might be to mourn a loss and cope with grief, it won’t get easier. You won’t be moving on. It will simply become a part of you. A golden part. You’ll learn how to live with it. You’ll be able to carry it, but it won’t consume you.
Whenever you have the feeling of being alone or not being strong enough to deal or overcome a situation on your own, just remember this: everyone you love — living or dead — stands right behind you. Imagine them being right there with you while you walk towards your fears, dreams and challenges. Take them with you everywhere you go, and you won’t ever have to walk alone.