On a story I'm working on, I wrote the line, "She existed." This a father said to a friend comforting him on the death of his child. It seemed like an odd line, and I stared at it for a long time because a) I didn't know where it came from and b) why would anyone say something so cold after such a traumatic event?
I pondered the line for a long time after I wrote it. And then I left it in, and came back to it this morning. Stay or go? Stay or go? And then I realized it had to stay because it's a true statement. Unexpected, but true, because we all have moments in our lives when we think, "Did that happen? Did it really unfold like that? Did I really feel like that?" And so when I wrote that line, unconsciously that must have been what I was thinking about -- the mere fact that a moment existed, that it happened, and now it doesn't; in other words, memory is a constant, bittersweet reminder of something what was, should have been, and now never will be. And constantly, we have to validate and acknowledge those memories because as time goes on, the emotions and events drift further away, leading one to question what is real and what isn't.
Of course, that's a lot of meaning to put into two words, a total of four syllables. But sometimes grief is that simple, that terse, and at a particular moment in time, that's all someone can say about an emotional upheaval. It just goes to show that sometimes your characters do know more about what's going on in their lives than you, the author, does.