What’s the cost of attachment?
This is a question came into direct focus for me with the recent passing of my dog, Raja.
The experience of Raja passing was quite heavy for me. I felt more grief in a 4-day period than I have in the last 4 years. As odd as it may sound… losing Raja was harder [for me] than losing my grandmother. Why? Because I simply had a stronger attachment.
I think a lot of the dog folks out there will feel some empathy here. Losing an animal that lives with you every day is tough. They truly become family.
That said, I had an insight around the loss and grief that I hadn’t really felt before. That insight was the cost of attachment.
To lay some context, let’s quickly define attachments. They come in many forms, including:
- Ego centric thoughts
- And tons of other things
An attachment is essentially anything you’ve created a connection of feeling with. For example, we generally create attachments to:
- People we love
- Experiences we enjoy
- Things we like
There are also negative forms of attachment with different feelings. For example, we can also create attachments to:
- People we envy
- Experiences we crave
- Things we abuse
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on the positive form of attachment. While it’s easy to realize the value of positive attachments, it’s less common to realize their cost. And every attachment has a cost. Let me repeat – every attachment has a cost.
The cost of an attachment is what we pay if we lose it.
For example, I recently lost my dog. My attachment to her was love, joy and bliss. She gave me all of those feelings. When she passed the cost was quite different in the form of grief, pain and anger. I experienced all those feelings when I lost her, which was the payment.
Anyone who’s experienced similar loss of a loved one can probably relate. Strong relationship attachments have heavy costs when they’re lost. Whether it’s a pet, friend or family member, the loss and grief can feel overwhelming. This is almost inevitable. We trade the highs of the attachment for the lows of the cost.
And so… it ultimately creates the question of – is it worth it?
Should we become attached to things knowing that we’ll pay a price when we lose them?
The immediate instinct during grief is a quick no. “There’s no way I want to go through that again.” I remember feeling that after Raja passed. The thoughts continued… “This sucks and going through it again simply isn’t worth it. No thanks. Life will be easier without another dog and that future pain.”
But here’s the thing…
Feeling all the emotions is what makes life beautiful. Without pain there can be no joy. Without sadness there can be no happiness. We need to experience both sides to really appreciate what life has to offer.
While the pain and sadness can hurt, it’s part of the human experience. The same way joy and happiness have their place in our lives, so do their counterparts. It’s just part of the ride.
I also learned a lot from these feelings. The deep grief that I felt inspired a whole new level of awareness and focus around what’s really important in my life. It helped me reframe my priorities and use of time. While Raja’s death may seem like a tragic loss, it was also a gift in many ways.
For example, I think we often take for granted our time in this world. Many of us spend and waste time like we have an endless supply. However, the reality is that we aren’t granted “another day” or limitless time. Death can make this crystal clear. It will show you what’s important.
Life also has less color and meaning if we reduce it to an emotionless experience. There will be inevitable ups and downs. Instead of trying to avoid them, we can feel through them and learn more about ourselves. We can come alive. That’s my take at least.
So was the attachment to my dog worth it?
Absolutely. I foresee having more dogs in the future. They certainly won’t be Raja, but they’ll likely be something I create an attachment to. And I realize from the start that there will be a cost.
With that perspective, I think the closure here is to simply enjoy the ride. Choose your attachments and accept their costs.
Thank you for inspiring this post, Raja ❤️
Ali is a father, husband and serial entrepreneur with a deep drive to create. He writes, records, codes and builds things to inspire the artist in all of us.