Think of the person (who) loses a job or a girlfriend and then finds himself in despair. The real cause of the despair is not the man’s loss of the job or the girlfriend. What the loss of the job or girlfriend really reveal is that the person was in despair all along, that his identity was built on something too fragile to be the basis of selfhood. When this fragile basis for identity is shattered, the self’s underlying emptiness was revealed.
C. Stephen Evans, Kierkegaard: An Introduction