Diluting Happiness with Guilt

Jun 11, 2021

Life after loss is a wild ride of unexpected, overwhelming and oftentimes conflicting emotions. No matter the well-intentioned (yet likely misinformed) advice you are getting, it’s perfectly okay if you are not okay. And it is also perfectly okay if you ARE okay – for a moment or for a day or for months on end. Maybe you have:

Felt a glimmer of hope.

Heard yourself laugh out loud.

Realized that you’re smiling.

Enjoyed the attention of another person.

Found a peaceful place.

Been inspired by a fellow widow who has found her way back to living again.

Gone a whole day without crying.

Felt a twinge of happiness.

If you’ve felt any of these – hope, peace, inspiration, happiness – what happened next? I’m guessing it was a tsunami of guilt. We tend to dilute positive feelings with guilt.

I thought that:

The length of my grief somehow indicated the depth of my love for my husband.

If I was happy again, I would be disrespecting him and our marriage.

If I laughed out loud that it would mean I’m “over it.”

If I smiled again I would be leaving him in the past.

If I felt hopeful again that I would be “moving on.”

I was making these glimmers of positive emotions mean something. But I was wrong, about all of this and more.

What is the difference between someone who moves forward and someone who stays stuck?

It is a willingness to examine one’s thoughts along with a willingness to be wrong.

I was willing to be wrong.

I was willing to reconsider what I thought was true. I was open to exploring what else might be true – thoughts that would help me through my darkness instead of keeping me stuck in the quicksand of it all.

I was at the cemetery once, lamenting that all I could do for my husband was place fake flowers on a grave, wondering if this was all there was. I got back in my car and the answer came clearly. No, you can LIVE.

I can live big enough for the two of us. I can experience happiness, hope, joy, peace and laughter- not only for me but also for him. I can live for him and with him, and as I do that, I find myself more and more.

My recent blog shared the notion that life in general is a mix of positive and negative emotions. The exact mix is debatable, but the concept is a good one: that the most authentic human experience is to feel the range of emotions from uncomfortable to wonderful and everything in between. The deeper our sorrow, the more joy we can experience.

Our time is non-refundable, and so we must use it with intention. Are you willing to take a close look at your thoughts, and for those that create extra suffering for you, reconsider them?

Are you willing to allow yourself the experience of positive emotions without letting guilt steal them away?

I hope so.

If you can’t seem to break free from the quicksand of grief, I’ve got you. My private coaching program called Life Reconstructed can help. If you’re ready to invest in yourself and take confident strides to your healing, simply click here and we’ll see if it’s a fit.

Learn more about Life Reconstructed.

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