Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Understanding Grief and Happiness and Guilt - The Soup of Defeat

When we first encountered grief, it was a state of shock.  It was difficult to breathe.  It was difficult to accept that people everywhere were continuing to do things like work, play, eat meals, have normal days.  That passed.  Eventually we started working, playing, eating and having days without feeling like robots.  Then I remember the first time I laughed spontaneously.  I felt foreign to myself in that moment.  As time has passed, we have experienced happy moments, good days, waves of sadness, the gamut.

It's the happy days I find the hardest.  During the happy I get caught up in the happy.  But afterwards, the guilt creeps in.  I'm not supposed to be happy.  After all, we lost something so big that it stopped our lives for several months.  So with the guilt, I throw myself back into the grief.  Self-defeatist.

I would tell myself, I should be happy, I have kids who deserve a happy mom.  But they are words in my head and the guilt monster has a louder voice.  So the circle of the soup of defeat spins around me.  Each time though, I get a little bit better at being ok with happiness.  Happiness and I are getting to know each other again, starting anew.

In the end, I feel that the secret to grief is two things:  surrender and forgiveness.  When I surrender to my emotions I push through.  When I fight my emotions it is merely an exercise in clutching to them so tight, they can only pile up inside feeding the fire.  Forgiveness, I'd like to write about again in more depth, but the main thing here is to forgive anything that guilt tries to tsk tsk.  I can forgive me, and thumb my nose at guilt.  If there's one thing I love, it's the freedom to be stubborn.  I scorn guilt.  I invite happiness to cross my threshold, I'll enjoy its visit if I can.


jaded said...

I think of emotions like a rainbow gradient. Like colors, emotions morph from one shade into another, none permanent or unchanging like solid swatches of paint. Emotions are neither good nor evil, we feel what we feel. How we react to those emotions is what places under the judgement of others.

De said...

Guilt seems to have a life force of its own. Those flashes of guilt are very like the flare when you toss dry tinder on the fire - I tend to lash out at who or what is in front of me, completely irrationally because the guilt is so powerful. Yet now, I don't feel guilty about anything so I can't even come up with any examples of the shame that would trigger it. Although, in my case, anything I've ever felt guilty about really was my own fault, whereas being happy is not. I am grateful that I've never had to cope with a serious loss.

meno said...

You have described it very well. I am still waiting for the happy times though. I'm glad you have them and i will help you thumb your nose at guilt.

Lynnea said...

Jaded, sometimes I think as a society we've gotten so wrapped up in evaluating emotions that we've forgotten how to grieve. We try to over-analyze when we could leave the emotions to do the job. And yet, here I am, analyzing my own grief. *sigh* - the inevitable trap.

De, I never understood grief and loss until this past year. Finding that guilt could attach itself to the process was a surprise to me.

Meno, you will get to the happy times, I'm sure of it. I can't imagine living alone at this point, I know it's tough and desolate feeling, but you are getting stronger every day, conquering things one at a time. It's all you can do. Hang on and the happy will creep back in when you least expect it.