Because of a far too early understanding of death (mother told me I wept hysterically for a fly she accidentally smooshed at about 3 years old because it had died), I think I’ve gotten good at other kinds of loss. Not good in the sense of placidly accepting them. When I lose people I am wretched. But I do have a tool kit. Because, as James Baldwin says:
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.
So, my very selfish first-aid list, which I have used and built upon over the years:
Rumors by Fleetwood Mac, which is about every single member of the band cutting one another to the bone, except Christine McVie, who did her cutting of others offstage.
Tennyson’s In Memoriam
Songs of Experience. Especially the Pebble and the Clod, but others as well. It really do be like that.
Dorothy Parker has a few, which I’ll not link here. Some are love poetry, though I sometimes generalize them outside of romance. They are famous, so go find them.
Theater of War: What Greek Tragedies can Teach Us Today. Adam Driver reads the audiobook, and it has long passages from plays, which he reads. The best version. Get it.
All That You’ve Seen Here is God: New Versions of Four Greek Tragedies Sophocles’ Ajax, Philoctetes, Women of Trachis; Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound. Ancient Greek plays are written to be goddamn wailed and are on a variety of topics. This collection is on the theme of systemic inequalities.
You may be justifiably worried that these sound like horrible slogs of books. They are, in fact, wonderful slogs of books. It’s good to see the bile on the page. It hurts to read. But it hurts in a way that lets me know I am not the only one hurting, and that’s important.