I'm reading The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice for reasons that are interesting but not particularly related to this post. Early in the book, Lestat is consumed by something his friend Nicolas names the "malady of mortality," a deep shuddering realization of pure emptiness, the absolute absence of any answer in death. The malady overtakes him during a drunken evening with Nicolas not long after Lestat's harrowing near death experience with a pack of wolves which was followed closely by his mother's admission that she is dying and "perfectly horrified" by the fact. Having once seen this darkness, Lestat sees death standing behind everything—"real death, total death, inevitable, irreversible, and resolving nothing."
Yesterday was the three month anniversary of Ashley's death. In a moment of hopeless sadness and tears, Cindy and I confessed to one another that we each have this constant undercurrent of fear that it will happen again, that someone else dear to us will die or that we will die and leave behind for others the huge sadness that we feel.
When it feels like the sadness will never pass, we've found the only salve is gratitude—remembering all the things we are thankful for in each day: a beautiful sunset, children's laughter, the arms of a loved one around us in a warm happy hug.