POV: you are writing a piece of speculative fiction about what you’d say in ten years about the loss you are experiencing now.

Word Count: 1,753

by Ariadna García Llorente



Coping with a new loss, we are probably all tempted to think of our process as a journey through the “five stages of grief”—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, in no particular order. A kind of all-too-accessible discourse that imposes itself on us in times of uncertainty and to which we cling in bad faith or mauvais foi, as Sartre described the inauthenticity of those who evade the responsibility of understanding themselves. We stop asking questions when we hold on to explanations based on clichés and platitudes to quickly relieve our anxiety. Questions like: what do we really lose when we lose something we love?

I’m desperate. No one will hire me, let alone interview me! Is it because I am an immigrant and I don’t speak English that well? Or it’s because I’m not good enough? Or it’s because I’m childish? I’d had an amazing job at a dream magazine rooted in community psychoanalysis. And then … gone. Poof.

At this point in my life, with so many losses behind me, I am rather more skeptical. But in 2022, I still had confidence in my ability to reach some ultimate truth within myself. I was willing to ask myself all the questions I needed to ask if I was to find out what, exactly, it was that I was losing when I lost something. Under no circumstances would I have allowed myself to indulge in bad-faith discourse, in clichéd delusions, or at least that is what I thought. And what allows me to remember this attitude so vividly, so many years later, are the hundreds of pages of a diary I used to write and that I found this morning in the attic. Out of the blue, it fell off the top of a shelf when I was looking for toys for my niece and her friends, staying over for the weekend. Looking at it lying there, covered in dust, I thought it was a sign of something. So, a little while later, I sat with my tea at the kitchen table, and read it so carefully that I almost didn’t notice the fuss of the girls in the other room. Despite my messy handwriting and the chaotic structure of those pages, it is clear I was trying to find a kind of order. I was trying to dissect all my relationships to the ultimate cause, and to find something common to them all.

As I read, I also noticed that this dynamic had become intriguingly radicalized that November.

I just met my actual boyfriend, who has only known me working here. The risk of having a job that you and others think is cool is that you over-identify.

At that time, I had just lost my job at Stillpoint Magazine and threw myself into the pages of The New Black, where the British psychoanalyst Darian Leader beautifully addresses grief (“reaction to loss”), mourning (“the work of thinking through loss”), and melancholia (“unresolved loss”). As far as I can see on the page dated November 20, the one thing that particularly struck me was what the author presented as four processes of the work of mourning:

1. “The introduction of a frame to mark out a symbolic, artificial space.”
2. “The necessity of killing the death.”
3. “The constitution of the object (involving the image they occupy for us).”
4. “The giving up of the image of who we were for them.”

Passionate about my job, I give it my all, and my team knows it. I am appreciated, I am valuable, and I am needed. I have to give that up, what I’ve been to them. A name was given to me. And a good salary to start materializing my bourgeois aspirations in a foreign country.

I leave it to you to read the book for an in-depth analysis of these phases. But hopefully their titles are evocative enough to warm us up, to give us a clue as to what they are pointing at, our first and most important relationship as humans, our most precious object of love —language.

“Unexpectedly, the magazine closes for reasons beyond our control, loss of funding, and I consequently lose my job,” I tell everyone I see. But is it unexpected? Things always come to an end. Was it beyond our control? I am aware of all the choices I could have made. Was it my job? Like past partners and friends, it is something I “had” in a slippery way, the only way you can have something. And while I “had” it, it was almost the most important thing. Still, it is no longer there. I know that other things will be as important, love or work, if there is any difference.

According to Darian Leader, when in mourning we put a frame on something (1) and separate it from the rest surrounding it, it loses its status as a pure object and becomes a representation of it, a place held linguistically by its name. Killing the dead (2) implies that the loss has to be registered beyond objective reality, i.e., symbolically. We constitute the object (3) because it is not only the object we lose but also the place it occupies in our linguistically-structured unconscious. And we must give up the image that the lost object had of us (4) because the place given to us by others provides us with an identity in a social world where we need to have one. Frames, representation, symbolic death, occupying symbolic places … accepting such an idea of mourning implies, among other things, embracing the fundamental role of language in our lives and simultaneously, inviting us to separate ourselves from it.

My identity at risk—who am I now that I don’t have a job I’m passionate about? Will my boyfriend, who has always known me working at Stillpoint Magazine, still love this new version of me? What is my role now that I will not be needed and will no longer be the organized person with everything under control?

Language creates symbolic spaces; without it, we would be unable to recognize any other love object that comes later and that we may lose: not our father, our friend, nor our lover or our colleague. But what allows us to see sometimes does not let us see at an optimal distance, as in the famous Chinese proverb of the fish that cannot see the water. For Lacanian psychoanalysis, water is language. And psychoanalysis invites us to take a little leap out of it: constructing a phantom (with words) and traversing it, analyzing the logic of our discourse, the signifiers we repeat daily, and the signifiers they refer to, in an endless chain to the unconscious. We thus arrive at what we unconsciously think the Other wants from us and the many things we do to satisfy that supposed demand. Or plural demands. And, if we are fortunate, to free ourselves from it a little.

I wonder about my next step. Should I give myself time to rest, think about what I want, enjoy the break, spend my savings? Or should I find a job I don’t like quickly? I have been oscillating between the two options erratically for weeks.

But I wonder about the function of knowing the psychoanalytic theory of mourning while in mourning itself. As Freud suggests in his text Wild Analysis, knowing something is not the same as knowing it unconsciously, registering it symbolically for a change.

There are moments when I find peace, when I answer a call that comes from very deep. A call that has no voice but tells me to write about myself, or about psychoanalysis, or about writing, whatever it is. And that makes me close the window of Artsjobs, Creative Access, The Bookseller, or Book Machine, and the stupid cover letter I was writing in Canva. I feel that there is still much life left to live.

In the other room, my niece and her friends were laughing. Their little voices made me smile. But when I reached for my mug, I realized that in my reading, and remembering, I’d forgotten my tea, and it had grown cold. For me, personally, all those years earlier, the theory did not do any good. Despite my aim to get straight to the point, I had been obliged to go through the process with all those same blind spots and self-traps, with all that painful passage of time that any psychic process entails. But at least it got me reading and writing much more than I had done before. At least I had left a record, in words, that I could find in an attic, years later and miles away. And this record, this dedication to language is what has brought me to write this.


Ariadna García Llorente is a Spanish researcher, writer, and literary translator based in London. As well as her role as Managing Editor, Ariadna is Stillpoint Magazine‘s Spanish translator. She graduated in comparative literature, philosophy, and publishing, and is currently undertaking an MA in Psychoanalytic Studies at Birkbeck. Her passion for psychoanalysis on a theoretical level has fluctuated into an interest in the clinic, for which she has just started the clinical training at CFAR.


Rodrigo Nava Ramírez (he/him) is an artist and web programmer from Mexico City. Throughout his work, Rodrigo seeks to reframe digital technologies—such as the web, AR, live streams, geolocation and biometrics—as tools to explore spaces that are materially and temporary restricted, allowing alternative spaces for representation capable of escaping western logic and structures. the emancipation of technology as a true decolonizing act of resistance.

Rodrigo was featured in Issue 005: DAZE with his artwork Next to you (in-malibu.mx).

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