Should I be Feeling Bad Because I Feel Good?
January 10, 2024
BY KEN BARRINGER
The short answer is please don’t. There is nothing wrong with feeling good. It might mean you’re developing new perspectives on your grief, not that you’re grieving less. There are people who can feel a range of negative emotions - such as guilt – because they feel ok. This can be especially true around times that are “supposed to be hard” like holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. The sad aspects of grief are always there for you to feel whenever you want them. Why not take the win when positive feelings are there too? We can celebrate our person and/or how we are doing. People have even tried to mute being in a good space, not knowing how it was going to be perceived; Is he in denial? Does she not care? How dare he be so happy when there is so much sadness?
For every negative emotion people can experience there may be a person in their life to keep them locked into the negativity. Pessimists and nay-sayers can be quite impactful for grievers as they can be highly persuasive in their beliefs. Good for them, they can have it. Further, pessimists and nay-sayers get reinforced because they are never disappointed - eventually everything dips. However, by focusing on the negative emotions one can miss out on a lot of growth.
One would think a “goal” of grieving would be to feel better and grieve less fiercely. Feeling good all day, every day doesn’t seem realistic unless you’re in some kind of major denial. Pockets of time of feeling good is reasonable. We often reply with “good” or “fine” to the query, “How are you?”. People want (hope) to hear from grievers that they’re doing well, and everything is fine. However, those who ask may feel ambivalent too. They’re happy for you and may think something is wrong with you for behaving in a way they can’t fully tolerate. Now that is almost as confusing as grief itself.
It takes a great deal of work and effort to feel good while grieving. This takes a commitment to yourself, and the person or thing you’re longing for. Committing to feeling better while simultaneously missing someone is difficult for people to comprehend. Courage, positive energy, and inner peace are a trinity that’s far from easy to act upon. When you can embrace the trinity, it may elicit from others a range of responses from, “good for him, I’m happy he is doing well” to, “isn’t it embarrassing to be that way in public?” or raise suspicion about how much you cared. The people who get you understand you can be happy and heartbroken, have triumph and tragedy and joy and sorrow can work together. Enjoy the moment because the one certainty is that things change.