I’ve been telling myself that this Packers game doesn’t mean as much as “real life.”

It doesn’t mean as much as the beautiful love of my life, who means more to me than I can put in words. It doesn’t mean as much as my aunt’s cancer, which took her life, and robbed me of the talks we shared about my Packers and her Colts. It doesn’t mean as much as the peace my family enjoys, when too much of the world suffers under the treble and bass of rounds and mortars.

I tell myself to remember those great memories the Packers have lodged in my memory. Favre against the Raiders, when my old man and I shared a hug that only fathers and sons could understand. The summer of 2008, where we all had our faith tested – only to be rewarded with one of the greatest to play the game. The winter of 2010, where a Wild Card berth ushered in an era of Championship expectations.

And yet, this hurts. There is no denying it. It hurts like losing a dear friend. It’s unexpected, improbable, and devastating all at once. Some part of me has subconsciously been muttering a variation of this for the past day: “If only Quarless caught it,” “If only Bostick blocked instead,” “If only Burnett ran it back,” “If only we scored touchdowns on those early interceptions…”

To paraphrase Joe Namath, (on the venerable Rich Eisen Podcast): If. Such a big word for two little letters.

There are no guarantees in this sport. I’ll spare us the “nor in life” portion of that phrase. The Packers should be back to this stage – I expect them to be. But to get so close, so close, for the job to nearly be complete, and to come away with nothing, will take time to heal from. Time. Time will bring the first tackle in our Week 1 opener. Time will bring a new season of gripes about Capers’ scheme, and nervous expectations about Rodgers’ legacy. Time will bring us new wins, and yes, new losses. Time, sooner or later, will bring us a loss so deep that this one doesn’t feel like the worst thing on earth.

But I hope, for all of us, that time’s great reach does not hurt us more in our lives outside of Packer football.. It is a defiant hope. It is a failing hope. Try as we might, there is no doubt that we will all someday face pain far worse than what happened Sunday. And that is exactly why I’ll keep reminding myself that there are worse things.

And it is why I will never stop bleeding Green and Gold.

Go. Pack. Go.

Die hard Packers fan Rahim Tariq contributed this following the loss in the NFC Championship Game. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @twiqball