…to grieve and be joyful at the same time. This is called emotional conflict or ambivalence in which there is the presence of apposing emotions relating to an event or situation that has recently taken place. It can also apply to events which are yet to unfold ie those special days in our journey.
I share this definition because as a loss traveler, having two conflicting emotions is quite common. It takes courage to navigate the roller coaster of feelings.
I’ve heard that somewhere between 4-7 months loss travelers find the numbness is slightly lifting. They start to really feel the grief with crying, isolation, overeating, additions, difficulty breathing and so much more. Between 18-24 months, they may start to find some stability and are open to falling into their new norm.
For myself, the 13-month marker was huge. I gave myself permission to grieve and acknowledge birthday’s, holiday’s and angelversaries during those 13 months. I also gave myself permission to be happy during those times. Happiness is not selfish. It is self-preservation.
Even though it didn’t make sense and it was difficult to comprehend, I knew in my heart that I wanted to be happy again. I knew that I wanted to find joy. I knew that I needed to learn to cope. This emotional conflict caused me to be at unrest and extremely uncomfortable. I sometimes felt guilty for laughing. To make myself cry, I intentionally looked at pictures of Connor or thought about him. I fell into my own pity party and looking in the mirror of my own tear stained, swollen eyed reflection caused me to sob even more.
Our emotions are contagious. When you are happy, do you find yourself with others that are happy? When you are sad, do you find yourself with others in a similar state? When we accept something, it does not mean we are giving it up, it is just permission to accept what is happening right now. You alone are the only person who can give yourself permission.
It was important to accept that I had conflicting emotions. It is normal. It is okay. This self-awareness is part of the healing. It helps us to connect to ourselves. Know your grief is a big part of you. I repeat, it is only a part. Allow the other parts of you come through. Give yourself permission to chose grief or joy. Give yourself permission to take the next step in your journey. Give yourself permission to find courage and move forward.
Give yourself permission to ask yourself, “What can I do right now, in the moment to find peace or joy?”