As you may or may not know, my dad died early in the morning of July 23rd. My heart was, and still is, broken. I felt lost. I still do. Three days later dear hubby and I loaded up the car and headed to Texas for son #one’s wedding. About a week later, we drove back home to Wisconsin. The very next day we drove to Minnesota to attend my dad’s memorial service and to bury his ashes next to my mother’s.
Needless to say, I’ve been an emotional mess for the past few weeks. Days have been a mix of sadness and joy. That worn out cliche about that proverbial emotional roller coaster, is worn out yes, but it’s also been quite fitting for my feelings of late.
Such is life, right?
I was worried about spoiling my son’s wedding with tears of sadness. This worry, of course, made no sense because my dad was on all of our minds. We were all family. We were all grieving. We were all celebrating. Tears of any sort were okay that day and any other day, for that matter. And like I keep saying over and over, emotions are complex, and we humans often feel many different emotions all at the same time. We are entitled to feel any or all of them, one at a time, or jumbled together all at once.
We should never feel badly about experiencing joy mixed with sadness or sadness mixed with joy.
So why is it so hard to follow my own advice?
As things turned out, it was a lovely wedding indeed. I am so happy for son #one and my new daughter-in-law. I had a really good time. I smiled. I laughed. I celebrated.
I also cried more than a few tears.
As my very dear and very wise friend Nicki Boscia Durlester (thank you, Nicki) said to me before I left:
This is the juxtaposition of grieving and celebrating. As heavy as your heart is now, it will be filled with happiness this weekend. Your dad would want you to be in the moment and embrace the joy at your son’s wedding. You know he will be with you in spirit. His essence lives on.
That’s exactly what I did. I embraced the moment. I embraced the joy. But I also embraced the sorrow.
I don’t think my friend has any idea how much her words meant to me and how they helped carry me through.
They continue to help carry me through now.
I will continue to embrace my grief.
I will allow myself to feel it without also feeling pangs of guilt.
But I will also allow myself to embrace joy at every possible moment.
Because yes, this is exactly what my dad would want for me, to experience the joys of living.
Life carries on.
I will too.
And my dad will always be with me in spirit.
Because his essence lives on in my heart forever indeed.
Have you ever experienced a similar juxtaposition of celebrating and grieving?
Have you ever felt badly about your feelings of sadness when you were expected to be feeling joyful, or vice versa?
Do you have trouble following your own advice?