Joy Intertwined with Grief? How?
Think about it – it’s true. We incur loss and get engulfed in our grief. But over time, as the grief becomes less dominant, we can feel joy again. From then on, we don’t completely put aside the grief – it lives side-by-side with the joy. We go back and forth between them, or even in a single moment, they could be mixed.
For example, I remember such a feeling at my 21-year-old son’s wake. Most of the mood was very sad, but then someone approached me to tell me a funny story about my son, I smiled, chuckled or laughed out loud. I got some strange looks, but that intermingled the joy I had with him in life, with the grief and sorrow I felt from his passing. Later on, as I healed from my grief — I began to understand that his life was a gift to me, not just a loss. I was able to focus more on the positive memories, than I do on the pain of the loss. Joy and grief intermingle every year on his birthday or “angel-versaries” of his death.
This past weekend, I hosted a local event as part of The Compassionate Friends’ Worldwide Candle Lighting. In our local event, we mix joy and grief also. Not only do we have relevant music and readings, and light a candle for our children… we gather afterward and tell cute or funny stories about them. It lightens the energy in the room, and we get to know each other’s departed children a little more. The best part is that I can feel the energy of those loved ones laughing with us.
I came across this wonderful TEDx talk “Beyond Closure” that illustrates this point. Nancy Berns is a sociologist at Drake University. She looks at the space between grief and closure and has found that not only is closure a fabricated concept, it is doing us more harm than good.
Enjoy the video:
So, during the holidays and anytime, try to let the joy shine through in your life, even when you grieve. That’s what your loved ones want and I believe it makes it a little easier for them to touch us.