Resources for Loss

"Stańczyk" by Jan Matejko (1862), contributed by Jordy Chaves (2023)

The piece is literally about the loss of a home caused by a belligerent force. But it has the added threat of knowing that this is not the end of the loss. There is more to come, and that arguably puts Stanczyk in a greater position of vulnerability. There is no time to process the tragic news when it is part of a greater sequence of tragedies. There is no solace from those who should be worried—the court and royalty of Poland—as they are acting as if the fall of Smolensk has not happened. Not only is there a lack of time, but there is also a shortage of people who can accompany Stanczyk in his time of great grief. That lack of time to process loss thrusts many into the void of despair—in this painting represented by the dark room—in which every facet of one’s life is marred by the constant reminder of impending doom. The painting invites us to ponder the question: How do we handle loss when we know there is more loss to come? Can we even process that loss in time to react to that which is to follow? How much more vulnerable are we if those who we thought would console us are indifferent to our plight? These are confounding uncertainties in grief that will ultimately complicate our reaction but are imperative for us to take into consideration as we navigate our personal tribulations when we grieve.

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