What is the strongest human emotion? Many feel it is love, and I respect this opinion. I just don’t believe it to be so. Others think hate or anger. Fear is certainly high on the list. How about greed or jealousy, which is really selfishness?
From my experience, it none of these. It is grief… hands down.
Sure, there are many other emotions — like guilt, regret, lust, happiness, etc. — but I consider grief, love, hate, selfishness, and fear the top five.
Now I know many might contend that love is supreme. I concede that even love, as wonderful as it is, falls below both grief and fear. I admire people who believe love conquers all. I really do. There’s nothing wrong with that. But to feel this way, when experiencing otherwise, would paint me as naïve and falsely optimistic.
Unlike love, grief (and fear, for that matter) can stop a person dead in their tracks. Without warning. Other times the grief is not as dysfunctional, but bubbles just below the surface. It reminds you to put your happiness in perspective. Functional grief (as I’ve heard it called), to me is the unrelenting undercurrent that tugs at the legs even when the water appears calm and peaceful to those on the shoreline. Your feet are eternally searching for solid ground. Sometimes you feel pinned, unable to move, and panic takes hold. Trying to make it back to dry land is impossible. The currents would only sweep you away when the waters of despair are running this high. Hope is the boulder that both anchors and immobilizes.
It’s best to hunker down. Do the best you can. Survive. All the while, foolishly hope that the water recedes even though the rain comes down in sheets.
If you think about it, love is a component of grief. Although some might see it as exactly the opposite, this separates from logic. Without love, grief simply doesn’t exist. Whereas, love could (and usually does) exist without grief…unless you’re married to someone like me, that is (that’s a joke, I hope!). Grief involves more than just love because it is also a deep feeling of loss. The loss of something huge and irreplaceable, like a child, parent, or spouse.
It hurts to the core, both emotionally and physically. It is absolute suffering and helplessness. Unlike anger or hate, there’s no “letting go” or “forgiving”. People who claim time mends a broken heart missed the boat. It’s not true and I will never believe so. All time does is spread out the grief and, perhaps, allow better coping and management of this emotion. It doesn’t lessen it.
I should know. I continue to experience every human emotion today, just as over these past thirty-four months. Often at the same time, and sometimes all pegged at the maximum. It’s like a pressure gauge on the brink of exploding. I grieve, fear, love, and hate to the greatest magnitude. No matter the circumstance, it is grief that always rises to the top. Always.
I’m not even going to talk about the five (or sometimes listed as seven) stages of grief. It’s hogwash. It’s more complicated than this silly list and I’m actually offended that some see it as this simple. Really, where is a comparable and equally widely accepted itemization on the stages of love or hate? Oh, I’m sure someone along the line has tried to do this, but, really? Enough said…
Like brain injury, I consider and self-recognize myself as an expert on emotions. I would be denying myself if I pretended like I didn’t feel the full spectrum each day. I experience true love. True hate and anger. True grief. I’m a jealous bastard, but not of possessions. I’m jealous (and angry) of the relationships others have and wish Ryan had these too.
“De-Clutter for the Divineys’ II” Mega Community Yard Sale is coming September 29th. Click here for the event day details and ways to donate.