Laughing through the tears,
So much of grief, in my view, is an uncomfortable form of gratitude. When you’re in the middle of grieving something or someone you’ve lost, it’s not very easy to see it this way. But seeing that connection, and how it can often cause you to laugh in the midst of your grief, can help you begin to make a bit more sense of the experience, and it can make the process feel not quite so overwhelming.
Having had someone very close to me pass recently, I’ve been trying to apply the concept in real time. And, I can tell you from first hand experience, that finding gratitude in my own grief has helped immensely, I hope you can find it useful too.
Gratitude is both the appreciation of what we have and the appreciation of what we’ve had. The second part of that is generally the harder one to recognize as gratitude.
When we lose something, or someone, we tend to focus on the loss, on what we don’t have anymore, on what we can’t do anymore, or who we’ll never get to talk to again. In those moments, it’s the expectation of a future that can no longer be that we are truly grieving. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s quite healthy, but it can also distract us from the gratitude that lies underneath much of the pain.
When we focus on what is underneath the pain of missing out, we can see the love, the memories, and the meaningful experiences of what we had. This type of grief can often lead to a smile, a laugh, or just a nice warm feeling inside.
It’s a feeling that can be very disorienting in the midst of the pain and sadness. But, when we remember the experiences, the conversations, and the emotions that were present when we were in the presence of that for which we grieve, we can re-experience those emotions as well. And, while it might not feel like a gift at the time, we can eventually realize that those experiences can never be taken away from us.
Reliving those emotions is gratitude. Laughing at a joke that was told, feeling the warmth of an embrace, or simply smiling at a moment remembered clearly allows us to appreciate them and remind us how lucky we were to have them.
But while it’s harder, and while laughing can feel almost inappropriate in these moments, focusing on that gratitude and laughing about the good times, or even the ridiculousness of the event or life itself, can be very helpful in the healing process.
It’s almost impossible to grieve something or someone that we didn’t love.
Being grateful for that experience by laughing, smiling, or even rolling our eyes as if we were in the experience again is a healthy part of the healing process.
Laugh away my friends.