My dear friend and close collaborator, Bernard Brandchaft, died two days ago at the age of 96. His death evoked a memory of my reaction to the death long ago of another friend and psychoanalytic innovator, Heinz Kohut, who created the perspective known as The Psychoanalytic Psychology of the Self. Following Kohut’s death on October 8, 1981, I experienced a writer’s block for several months. Whenever I sat down to write, I felt paralyzed with exhaustion. After several months of this block, I had a dream that resolved it. I was with Kohut in his study at his summer home in Carmel, California, the site of my last visit with him, and he was very sick. I said, “Heinz, you look so tired. Maybe you should lie down and rest.” When I woke up from this dream, I realized that I had been trying to deal with the loss of my friend by preserving an aspect of him in me through identifying with his state of being as he was dying. Understanding this, I could write again. The vignette provides a clear example of what I am calling the dialectic of loss and continuance, a dialectic that Freud wrote about in his classic article, “Mourning and Melancholia.” I will preserve aspects of my friend Bernie in me as well.
The dialectic of loss and continuance is beautifully captured by the song, “Out to Sea,” written by Stephanie Stolorow to commemorate the scattering of her grandmother’s ashes in the waters of Monterey Bay, and performed by her and her brother Ben Stolorow under the name “Stoli Rose.” Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijkwwjP16Qs
Listen closely to the themes interweaving throughout the lyrics, as Stephanie both grieves the loss and preserves the bond with her grandmother within her own being.
Copyright Robert Stolorow, Stephanie Stolorow, and Ben Stolorow