The person who grieves suffers his passion to grow upon him; he indulges it, he loves it: but this never happens in the case of actual pain, which no man ever willingly endured for any considerable time. That grief should be willingly endured, though far from a simply pleasing sensation, is not so difficult to be understood. It is the nature of grief to keep its object perpetually in its eye; to present it in its most pleasurable views; to repeat all the circumstances that attend it, even to the last minuteness; to go back to every particular enjoyment, to dwell upon each, and to find a thousand new perfections in all, that were not sufficiently understood before; in grief, the pleasure is still uppermost; and the affliction we suffer has no resemblance to absolute pain, which is always odious, and which we endeavour to shake off as soon as possible.
The business of life summons us away from useless grief, and calls us to the exercise of those virtues of which we are lamenting our deprivation. The greatest benefit which one friend can confer upon another is to guard, and excite, and elevate his virtues.
And indeed the violence and impression of an excessive grief must of necessity astonish the soul, and wholly deprive her of her ordinary functions: as it happens to every one of us, who upon any sudden alarm of very ill news, find our selves surprizd, stupified, and in a manner deprivd of all power of motion, till the soul beginning to vent itself in sighs and tears, seems a little to free and disingage itself from the sudden oppression, and to have obtained some room to work itself out at greater liberty.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, ch. ii., Cottons 3d ed., 1700.