Life is complex, full of complex emotions. From when we are little children we learn about feelings- that we can be happy, or sad, or angry, or frustrated, or any number of different feelings. What we aren’t taught though, is that we can have different feelings at the same time.
Grief brings those mixed emotions to a new level. Some of the grief related emotions that have been so frequent for me have been sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, fear, worry, and emptiness. But what about happiness? WHERE does it fit in? Because when a child dies it is sad. It is out of order and not the way life is supposed to go. So HOW can I allow myself to be happy when my child’s life was cut short? At first the happiness was tainted with sadness. Every bit of happiness had a bit (or more than a bit) of sadness lurking just beneath the surface. As time has passed there has been more genuine happiness. The sadness is still close by but not quite as overwhelming.
I’m writing about this to process for myself, but also for those of you who are on this journey and maybe not as far along. I’m writing because it really, truly felt early on that there would not be any more genuine happiness. It didn’t seem possible. Sure I could laugh and smile, but it wasn’t real. I felt like I would have a sad cloud hovering over me for the rest of my life.
It feels a bit wrong to feel this happiness again, but I know I can’t be sad forever. I have a life to live and although part of that life is gone, the rest is still there waiting to be figured out and it’s alright for happiness to make it’s way in. This doesn’t mean I’m magically all better, or that my grief is gone. THAT will always be present. It just means I’m getting better at living with it. I think that’s progress and I’ll take every bit of progress I can get.