It had been months since a smile had formed on my lips that didn’t betray my pain.
And while joy seemed more like a Hollywood movie than a reality, I craved it to the point of longing. It was all I wanted.
When my boyfriend died, I accepted the lie that I would never be happy again. How could I? It felt as if the flames that had given me his ashes had consumed my existence too.
Yet, this is the story of most widows.
This precious piece of our lives leaves us forever, and we often throw away all possibilities of joy alongside it. At some point after losing our treasured ones, we form an emotional bond with our tears and agony. Sadness in grief becomes cathartic as it represents the care and love we have for our person. It’s an expression that their life is worth remembering.
Does Happiness Mean I’m Not Grieving?
Going about our day to day lives can conflict with our attachment to grief. Anything that places a half smile on our face can cause panic and bring an endless cascade of questions:
Does this mean I don’t miss him?
Maybe I don’t love him as much anymore?
Should I feel guilty for being happy?
If I feel joy, will he not feel as close to me?
What if this means I’m forgetting him?
This is because in early grief, we are filled with “buts.”
I’m going to work, but I don’t know how I will get through the day.
My friends invited me to hang out, but I don’t have the energy.
I want to travel but now that he’s gone, I can’t.
Embracing Happy Moments in Grief
Fresh grief is filled with all of life’s sorrow without any of life’s joy. However, as grief matures, which is what we slowly start feeling as we move through it, we learn how to live in the “and.”
My friends invited me out, and I’m able to laugh with them.
My memories of JR have pain and joy because they are ours, and I still love him.
I can go on this trip in his remembrance and carry all the sorrow and love that it brings me.
The “and” makes a difference.
I think it’s important to recognize that we don’t have to decide if we’re going to live in sorrow or happiness. It doesn’t have to be either/or. We can carry both, making it OK to remember a funny moment and be sad afterward. We can be teary-eyed at the couple who exchanges a kiss in front of us and be happy for them too.
However You’re Grieving — It’s OK
Grief is painful, yet it can include sweet remembrances of the life we had before it. So when that happiness comes, please don’t question your loyalty or love for the person who is no longer living. Remind yourself that you have a resilient heart and that you don’t have to feel one emotion at a time. You can mourn the life you have lost and appreciate how wonderful it was to have had it.
Wow! That was very helpful. Our minds are so complex that we often don’t even realize the subtleties in our thinking….
Penny, thank you for the encouraging comment. It’s always nice to know that I’m able to help someone in their grief. As you know, this journey is not easy. It look me a while to realize the different our thinking can make it grief. It’s been life saving for me.
Sending you love, light, and tenderness for the journey.