A Complex Question with No Simple Answer
The answer to this question is not a simple one. It’s so complex as it can vary from person to person. Some of us may find that grief and joy can coexist, especially when they are experiencing a mixed range of emotions after a significant life event. For example, a person may feel sadness and grief after the loss of a loved one, but also feel joy and gratitude for the time they were able to spend with that person and the love that they felt.
However, for others, grief and joy may feel like conflicting emotions that cannot be experienced simultaneously. This can be especially true in cases where the grief is overwhelming, such as after a traumatic event or a sudden loss. In these situations, it can be difficult to find joy or happiness amidst the sorrow or we might feel guilty for feeling a sense of joy.
Ultimately, whether grief and joy can coexist is a personal experience that can depend on a variety of factors, such as our coping mechanisms, support system, and the nature of the event causing the grief.
Here’s my personal approach to this complex issue, and what I experienced in the morning of November 18th, 2023.
Letting it All Out: The Most Vulnerable Place
I found myself crying in the shower. Again.
It’s that one place where we are fully naked, unguarded and raw; the place where we are truly ourselves, in a way that no one has ever witnessed before. It’s a portal.
For a moment, when the water cleanses our bodies, we feel allowed to let go. Some of us hold entire speeches in the shower and have their best moments, prepping for their imaginary TED Talk, while others perform a full concert and feel confident in who they are. Then again for other people it’s the only time they have to themselves (shoutout to all busy moms and caregivers), and for a lot of us it’s a time when we can feel what’s truly going on inside.
The Overwhelming Sense of Suffering and Divisiveness
The current state of the world is devastating, and the collective impact on our emotional and mental well-being is palpable. Whether we are directly affected or not, the suffering and division are taking their toll on our nervous systems. It’s overwhelming and heartbreaking.
I’ve been struggling with feeling joy on some days and throughout most of the days, given the ongoing destruction, violence, and desensitization to others’ pain. It’s hard to comprehend. I’ve seen images and videos that I cannot unsee. I keep shaking my head in disbelief and I often ask myself what has become of humanity.
Navigating Empathy and Business During Trying Times
As empaths and highly sensitive women, we may experience the effects of external stressors more intensely than others. This does not, however, make us superior or more deserving of recognition. Any language or behavior that suggests otherwise is not acceptable in my sphere and will be addressed accordingly. While it is true that we, as women, may be more prone to feeling other people’s pain, it can be difficult to maintain a sense of normalcy in these situations.
I’ve been asking myself how I can continue with business as usual, how I can create standard content and post it while the world is – quite frankly – going insane.
The events that have transpired have left me feeling drained, emotionally and mentally, on many days. It’s difficult to carry on with business as usual when the world around us is in crisis, shifting and evolving so rapidly. I’m in the middle of creating so much goodness and bringing it all to you. “How do I balance all of it?”, I ask myself.
The appropriate response would be:
I have come to realize that I can’t stay silent and simply go about my day-to-day routine. I must use my platform and my voice to bring attention to the issues that matter most. I’ve always used my voice and have been a rebel when it comes to injustice and the hardship of others.
But I’m also learning even more about maintaining my energy and keeping myself sane. It’s so important to not get sucked into the “dark corners” of this world. It doesn’t serve us or anyone if we drown in this darkness that is infiltrating the world. Yet, we need to make space for all of it. To feel and face our own darkness.
Experiencing The Whole Spectrum Of Emotion Is What Makes Us Human
Allowing and acknowledging the tears and the pain as well as the joy to be alive and the gratitude of waking up and having food and shelter, grants us a sense of grace and healing and this positive energy can ripple outwards and impact the world in meaningful ways.
So, when I was in the shower this morning and I felt the heaviness and pain of this world ever so present, I made space for grief and prayed for the water to cleanse me and give me hope to believe in humanity.
And there I was: I felt my heart beat, I tasted my salty tears, and then an indescribable force washed over me like something sublime and divine. Despite not being able to rationally explain it – and surely such things don’t make sense to the mind –, I felt as if my prayer had been answered.
Yes, grief and joy CAN coexist! In order to feel and experience one, you must know the other.