Grief Counseling and Happiness

The Emotion of Sadness and Grief Counseling

While the emotion of sadness can dominate grief, one finds very little talk of happiness in grief.  Such a contradiction defeats the purpose of loss.  Grief Counseling must also find that spurts of happiness are natural in grief.
Within Christian theology, out of grief can come victory.  Through Christ’s death came resurrection and liberation.  Also through one’s daily crosses comes heavenly reward.  From this perspective there exists a happiness admist the grief.  While the happiness is not intimately tied with the emotion, it can co-exist and become ultimately a by-product.
From a psychological standpoint, happiness and normalcy is an important element during the grieving process.  Traditional paradigms of grief recovery list step by step processes that must follow a linear progression.  The reality is that while traditional models do tell us alot about grief, they still cannot be used as universal paradigms.  People can skip various steps.  Also to note, many new ideas have completely dismissed step process and instead emphasize phases of grief as waves or oscillating peaks and valleys.  The peaks represent states of happiness or normalcy.  The subconcsious mind while it needs grieving to heal cannot constantly grieve or one would mentally breakdown.  With this in mind, one must acknowledge that there are states during the grief recovery where the person does manifest moments of happiness and laughter.  This allows the person to continue life but still remember.  Certain days when work or school are not at the forefront, one can take time to reflect and grieve. This idea of happiness or moments of happiness during the grief cycle also point to issues that possibly dismiss preconceived notions of hidden or regressed grief that were not legitimate pathologies.
The reality is people are more resilient that many think.  While complicated grief does occur, majority of people overcome their grief in a healthy fashion.  Normal reactions during the grief cycle do indeed include an isolated “oasis” of humor, joy, happiness and normalcy within the dark and sad “desert” of grief recovery.
Mark Moran, MA