“It’s better not to love so that never happens to you. Even a pet, a dog or a cat. As you pointed out — you love them and they perish. If the death of a rabbit is bad — ” He had, then, a glimpse of horror: the crushed bones and hair of a girl, held and leaking blood, in the jaws of a dimly-seen enemy outlooming any dog.
“But you can grieve,” Ruth said, anxiously studying his face. “Jason! Grief is the most powerful emotion a man or child or animal can feel. It’s a good feeling.”
“In what fucking way?” he said harshly.
“Grief causes you to leave yourself. You step outside your narrow little pelt. And you can’t feel grief unless you have had love before it — grief is the final outcome of love, because it’s love lost. You do understand; I know you do. But you just don’t want to think about it. It’s the cycle of love completed: to love, to lose, to feel grief, to leave, and then to feel love again. Jason, grief is awareness that you will have to be alone, and there is nothing beyond that because being alone is the ultimate final destiny of each individual living creature. That’s what death is, the great loneliness…
“When we die we won’t feel it because that’s what dying is, the loss of all that. So, for example, I’m not at all scared of dying any more … But to grieve; it’s to die and be alive at the same time. The most absolute, overpowering experience you can feel, therefore. Sometimes I swear we weren’t constructed to go through such a thing; it’s too much — your body damn near self-destructs with all that heaving and surging. But I want to feel grief. To have tears … Grief reunites you with what you’ve lost. It’s a merging: you go with the loved thing or person that’s going away.”
—Philip K Dick, Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said
[I’ve always remembered this speech, and the story about Emily Fusselman’s rabbit that precedes it. My copy of the book opened right up to that page when I went to look it up.]