Joy alludes us in times of death. So how can it be that “blessed are the those that mourn for they shall be comforted?” At the depths of my grief, I didn’t have joy, I didn’t want joy. The only thing I wanted was my son and he wasn’t coming back. Everything else fell far short. Many of us no longer want to live. What is the point, we rationalize? Only when we get our loved one back will we lose our grief. This is the stark reality of deep grief. We know there will always be loss; there will always be a hole that will go unfilled. It will always hurt. and there will always be grief.
So, what is the point? It says that we who morn are blessed. Blessed literally means happy. It seems paradoxical that you can be both happy and mournful particularly if you consider what we typically think of happy. However, you can experience joy. In the height (or depths, depending upon your perspective) of my grief, the only time I experienced joy was when I saw a child. It may have been my grandson. It could have been the boys I coached at soccer practice, or it was simply a father taking his kids on a hike. Seeing children brought me joy amid my grief and it still does.
I feel joy, and I am comforted. I finally found a way to describe what I am currently feeling. First, I am not over my grief, I am not past it, I have not let my son go, and I am not simply moving on. Nor am I stuck. I no longer want to stay the same, I don’t want to die, I want life. But what I am, is stronger. This is my promise to you; you will get stronger.
Remember what Nietzsche said, “That which doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.” The death of someone close may have nearly killed you. You may wish it had but it didn’t. It will make you stronger if you will it to happen.
Joy, real joy, comes through real experiences. The laughter of a preschooler, the look of an old man when his grandchild runs to him, and the orange hue of sunset are all joyful experiences. What they have in common is hope. All of them hold promise for an optimistic future.
Death rocks our world to the point we no avoid the present, doubt out past, and mistrust the future. The world we know is no longer. The sting of death strips away all superficiality. We know only one thing; life matters. All else is bull shit. It is that simple, and the answer is just as simple. Surround yourself with life.
My wife found a little turtle stranded on a sidewalk almost two years ago. She brought it home and nurtured it back to life. I look forward to seeing “T” eat, grow, swim and climb through his world. A little turtle brought comfort to me. “T” blessed me with life. He struggles, he accepts, and he prevails. I love that little guy, he is life.
Here a just a few suggestions that will allow joy to return to what may be a joyless life.
1. Recognize you will always have a hole where they once lived.
2. Surround yourself with life. Butterflies, baby turtles, and children are a good place to start. They are
God’s promise to you.
3. Admit your strength. Remember, you are getting stronger so train that strength by focusing on it. Of course, you have weakness, you always will. You can deal best with that weakness by focusing on your strength.
4. Give life to someone else. A card, a kind word, a hug are all good ways to share life.
This past weekend I spoke to two groups about how I getting stronger in grief. I used my strength to focus on someone else. At first, I was overridden with insecurity. My anxiety tried to rob me of joy. By surrounding myself with life, I focused on someone else. I mourned, and I was comforted. I was-no-I am blessed.
If you mourn, need to be comforted, and desire to be blessed please contact me at andymdavidson.com or facebook.com/throughlifeandloss.