It's worse than mourning. In mourning, grief is open. All know that someone has been lost. All may know that someone has been lost. It's permitted. Allowed.

In mourning, what time was spent together is precious and inviolable. Nothing and no one can touch it. Every word was spoken, every whisper was whispered, every caress was felt, every "I love you" was exchanged.

In mourning, there is goodbye. There is a funeral and a casket. Perhaps not always, but often enough. There is a final kiss on the forehead, there is the embrace of family and loved ones, there is pain shared and grief spread out. Every mourner takes the burden. Few mourn alone.

The burden is not light, but it is lightened. Enough, sometimes.

This is worse than mourning.

In this, grief is hidden. None know that someone has been lost. None know that there was someone to be lost. And none may know. It's neither permitted nor allowed.

In this, what time was spent together is nebulous and incorporeal. Nothing and no one can touch it. Every word was never spoken, every whisper was never whispered, every caress was never felt, every "I love you" was never exchanged.

In this, there is no goodbye. No funeral, no casket. The pain is not shared, the grief left to fester in the only one who knows what was. What wasn't. One mourns alone. And more than alone; in secret. No one is to know the heartstrings ripped by the sight of a familiar face. The aching loneliness of the nights, the cold bed, the feeling of betrayal that rings at every smile given to another.

It's a loss that carves out bits and pieces of the soul. That turns and twists and tears, a poisoned dagger, an endless agony.

The burden is heavy, and never lightened.