Monday, August 7, 2023

Finding Joy in Grief?

For we have shared many griefs, but they are translated into pure love and rejoicing when we meet. ~ May Sarton

A reader writes: I am reading a wonderful little book Healing After Loss by Martha Whitmore Hickman and I have a question for you. I have found this book of daily readings to be of great comfort to me. It has helped me survive one day at a time. Like the daily book readings, some days are better than others. I find that some readings are very difficult for me to comprehend. Overall, I can still recommend the book, but it is not perfect! 

For example, I am troubled by one particular reading, which begins with a quotation by May Sarton suggesting that when we find someone with whom we have shared grief we are filled with love and rejoicing.

What am I missing here??? While I gain comfort from sharing with others I cannot imagine "rejoicing" about anyone else's grief/loss.

My response: Perhaps it's just the way I am interpreting it, but I read this to mean how we might feel if and when we are reunited with our loved ones who have died ~ whether that is in a dream, through a vision or some other mystical experience, or even after we ourselves have died. It’s about maintaining the bonds we have with our loved ones and feeling the love we continue to share.

For example, author and bereaved mother Sandy Goodman (whose 18-year-old son Jason was accidentally killed when he was electrocuted) writes in her Love Never Dies Newsletter:

My girlfriend told me that there are people who would say that there is something wrong with me if she were to tell them that I feel joy when I think of Jason. She said that they would not understand how I could feel good when I have lost my son. I say it isn't about feeling good or feeling sad. It is about knowing that I have not lost him. 

In the same newsletter issue (May/June/July 2005), Sandy included this poem by Deb Kosmer of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which may resonate with you. Says Sandy: “As you will guess by what you feel when you read her poems, Deb has a bit of experience with loss. Because of that experience, she is also a Bereavement Support Coordinator.” 


Hope like love is a 4 letter word.

When you died I was afraid

Your love went with you.

And I thought hope had left me too.

I was alone and in pain

Thinking of you

Missing you

Screaming for you

Then one day I felt your love

And it was like you were still here

And hope returned, I felt it

And I knew it was real

Like your love for me

Was still real

I smiled knowing

That our love survived

And knew that

I’d survive.

Afterword: Thanks Marty - your interpretation makes good sense to me. I certainly would rejoice seeing/sensing my beloved once again. The short article that I read seemed to refer to rejoicing with others who had also suffered a loss. Perhaps it implied that those others had also felt a contact/presence with the ones they had lost.

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below. If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here


© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, BC-TMH

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