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Joy and Grief can Coexist

grief joy loss Dec 24, 2022

While the holiday season is a time of joy, gratitude, and peace — it's also a time of sadness, grief, and loss.

For me, it's a dance.

This year is my daughter's first Christmas. Our house feels so warm and full of joy. 

On the other side of this joy is grief.

My dad passed right after Thanksgiving, and I've been riding the wave ever since.

Before COVID, we started a new holiday tradition. We would visit my dad in New Jersey and spend Christmas to New Year in New York. As a result, Brian got to know my dad, which was incredibly special.

Each night I would cry because even though my relationship with my dad felt complicated for years, everything felt just right in those moments. 

So I woke up this morning with a heavy heart, thinking I wish we had one more holiday together.

After allowing myself to feel the sadness — I felt peace again because I had a new thought — I get to have a holiday with my dad - this time, he's in my heart. 

Loss is one of the hardest things we encounter in the human experience. No one gets out of this world without experiencing this type of pain. 

I like to view grief and loss as a part of love, meaning grief is an expression of love.

So this morning, when I felt grief hit me, I viewed it as an invitation to feel my way through it which is how I came to feel peace.

Here are two things that help me:

Feel Your Feelings

  • Whatever you do, please don't push your grief aside so you can get in the holiday spirit - what you resist will persist.  

  • I know you might be afraid to feel your grief because it will consume you. That's simply untrue. 

  • When you suppress, you send a message to your brain that the feeling of grief is a problem, so when you allow yourself to FEEL it, you let your brain know you can handle it and it's safe to feel.

Don't Feel Guilty About Feeling Joy

  • Joy and grief can coexist. Give yourself permission to feel it. Our thoughts create how we feel, so if you want to experience joy, you can create it with your thoughts.

  • Having moments of joy doesnt invalidate the depth of your pain.

  • Positive and negative emotions don't cancel each other out, and you don't have to be done with pain to make space for meaning and joy. We wouldn't know joy without grief, and we wouldn't know sorrow without joy. It's within that contrast that makes being a human realllllly freaking wild. 

Our hearts can be very tender this time of year so remember to be gentle with yourself and those around you. 

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