Becoming happy again after someone you love has died – guest post by Josephine Payge
It struck me just the other day that I was really happy! Now that might not sound exceptional in any way but in fact for me it is.
When I was in the pain of grief I can remember writing in my journal that I was looking forward to the day that I would be able to feel happy again. However, in a way I didn’t really believe that I would ever be able to do that. The pain was so huge and debilitating that it felt impossible that I would ever emerge from it. Plus I had a lot of unconscious beliefs about death and grief that would have held me back without me even being aware of them.
But emerge I did. I am very thankful that I stumbled across the nine steps to healing from grief. Through working these steps I uncovered so much about how I was thinking and how I was being held hostage by my thoughts and more importantly by my beliefs. I had no idea where these beliefs had come from, not specifically, until I uncovered them and talked about them. I was very surprised at myself when I would say things like: “it is disrespectful to not feel sad…” On reflection I think I picked my beliefs up along the way throughout my life. I acquired them from my religious upbringing, from films, from novels, from media, from how, as a child, I saw adults behaving at the news of a death and at funerals. Everywhere in fact!
And now that I am aware of these cultural paradigms I hear them expressed all over the place and that is just the way it is, I can’t change that. But what can be changed is our ability to really, truly heal our pain. We can absolutely arise out of our grief and so be able to talk about, remember and honour our person who has died. When we do this they can become ever present in our life rather than just a painful memory. For me this fact is the most compelling reason to heal the pain of grief. I am happy and grateful every day that I get to connect with my dead husband whenever and wherever I want to.
Of course everyone reacts differently to bereavement and also every death is different too. For example we might feel totally fine when one parent dies and then feel devastated when the other dies. It is strangely unpredictable. But what is predictable is the assumption by others of how we ought to feel and how we should react. But if we can’t be our authentic self when it comes to death and its sibling, grief then when can we be?
I guess if I were asked for advice when it comes to grief I would say: “question everything…”