When someone we love dies, we are consumed by an overwhelming and all-encompassing experience of anguish and despair. The simplest tasks become arduous and insurmountable. The suggestion that we could ever enjoyanything, or smile, or laugh again seems incomprehensible. We feel that our grief is now our new identity… forever.
Let me suggest that it is possible to experience momentsof joy amidst our grief. Grief and joy are not mutually exclusive emotions (although we often believe that they are). We are capable of feeling a multitude of emotions all at once. It is this tug of our heart and mind in different directions, amidst grief, that confuses and disorients us.
Then, there’s the guilt. The immediate ‘gut punch’ we give ourselves when we feel anything except our grief. It’s as though we are somehow betraying our loved one because we laughed at a joke, or forgot about our loss for the briefest of moments.
The ability to get outside of your grief momentarily is a healthy coping mechanism; a sort of mini-respite from the despair. It is okay to smile when you hear a baby giggle, to laugh as your dog romps through the snow, to take in the beauty of a sunset, or savor a delicious sweet treat. All of these moments can accompany our exhaustive experience of grief; moments that serve to remind us that grief need not be our entire identity.
There is still beauty in the world around us — even as we grieve.