When I lost my father, it was a sorrowful and dark experience. Still, moments of joy suddenly floated up, followed by feelings of guilt. “I shouldn’t be happy!”, I would think.
My mother – who suffers from dementia – joyfully celebrated her birthday about a week after my father died. No one begrudged her that celebration, and there was a degree of innocence about it.
Why doesn’t this apply to ‘right-minded’ adults?
Grief is a complex and deeply personal journey, often associated with feelings of sadness, loss, and pain. Still it is not uncommon for us to experience moments of joy or happiness during the grieving process.
In this blog post, I hope to explore feeling joy in grief, and to address the common accompanying emotion of guilt. I hope to provide insight and strategies to help you navigate these complex emotions and find peace as you mourn.
Embracing the multi-faceted nature of grief.
The thing is, it’s is important to recognise that grief is not a linear journey. It actually is a series of ups and downs. You may predominantly experience sadness and pain during the grief journey, but it is possible to experience moments of joy, laughter, and happiness amidst the mourning process.
Understanding the multifaceted nature of grief can help you make sense of your emotions and validate your experiences.
Finding this clarity can come through spending time in reflection and journaling. You may also reach some clarity with yoga, mindfulness and meditation.
Check out the journal prompts for grief below to help you gain some clarity:
Journal Prompts For Grief.
Journaling can help to manage anxiety reduce stress and cope with depression in your grief journey. Journaling also helps with prioritising problems, fears, and concerns. If you find yourself at a loss on how to journal in your grief, here are a few prompts to help you get started.
The possibility of finding moments of joy.
When I watched my mother joyfully clapping her hands at her birthday celebration, or when I sat with my father’s dogs, I felt a sense of joyful peace take over my heart.
In grief, you may experience moments of joy, perhaps emerging when reminiscing over happy memories, or when you celebrate the life of your lost loved one. It’s important to remember that feeling joy does not diminish the love or significance of the person you lost. Embracing these moments of joy can be a part of the healing process.
You should know that it is actually normal if you feel guilt when you experience joy in grief. You may also feel guilty because of societal expectations or the belief that experiencing happiness means forgetting or disrespecting the memory of the loved one.
Feeling joy does not equate to abandoning the love you have for your lost loved one. So it’s best to acknowledge and address your feelings of guilt so you may find some emotional balance and healing.
Finding peace and healing.
To navigate the complex emotions of feeling joy in grief and overcoming guilt, practise self-compassion and self-awareness. If it is bothering you that you feel joy, then the next time you do feel joy, check in with your body. Where do you feel the joy?
Likewise, when you feel guilty, scan your body for where the guilt resides.
Usually, although not always, joy takes place in the heart space – the anahata chakra. This is the space where we relate and connect with everything, whether spiritual, emotional or material, and joy is derived from usually here.
Usually also, guilt is stored in the sacral area, our svadisthana chakra. This is where all emotions are experienced, and depending on the flow of energy, we sometimes have very deep unmoving depths of trauma and emotions in this space. The sacra chakra is where we derive the capacity to flow.
Allow yourself to experience a wide range of emotions without judgment. Engaging in activities that honour your loved one’s memory can also help you find solace and maintain emotional balance.
Any emotions is normal in grief.
Experiencing joy amidst grief is a natural part of the healing process. It is possible to find happiness while mourning without guilt. Understanding the complexity of grief, embracing moments of joy, and addressing feelings of guilt are important steps toward finding peace and healing. Your grief journey is unique and it is okay to experience a mix of emotions. Embrace the moments of joy as a testament to the love and connection you shared with your loved one and to the world.
If you have any questions at all, please do feel free to contact me here. If you’d like to work on feeling guilty for experiencing joy in your journey in grief, check out the Yoga For Grief Chakra Immersion below.
Yoga For Grief
A FREE online immersion through the chakras
A FREE 5-Day online yoga immersive course that will help you to:
- find some peace and respite from grief through the exploration of your body and mind through yoga
- practise tools and processes to help you find clarity and compassion in your sorrow
- find a way forward through grief that will honour who or what you have lost.