When we first lose someone, everything is colored by grief. The coffee would be better if your loved one was there to enjoy it with you, that actor that they liked made a new movie they will never be able to see. All the little things are small tragedies in what you can't share and what they can't see. In the beginning we believe that we can never be happy and celebrate again, holidays will always just be what your loved one is missing. Slowly, though, our world starts to right itself and the haze of grief starts to abate. We can start to find real happiness in our lives again, although the haze is never fully gone. For most of us, there will always be a moment that we think how much our loved one would have enjoyed this.
Eventually though, there comes a time when a holiday or event arrives and it is time to celebrate life, and not just mourn. That first year, or several years will be the hardest, (and I recommend a ritual to help you through it here) but you will get to a point that you look forward to celebrations again. For some, this feels a bit like a disloyalty. How can you move on and be happy again when someone you loved is gone? You will hear all manner of platitudes about how they want you to be happy and not mired down in grief for the rest of your life, but doesn't enjoying life again mean you are letting go and there is more distance between you?
When loss is fresh and you feel like you are drowning in grief, when you can finally breathe a little again, you don't chastise yourself for starting to accept the new reality. It only becomes something we really berate ourselves over when we finally start to experience happiness again, and then you are going on the rollercoaster of grief again, and you don't even remember getting on. Feelings of survivor guilt and loss can overwhelm us when we thought we were about to have a good time.
When we suffer a great loss, our grief becomes part of us, a part that doesn't completely heal. There will always be haze of grief when someone who should be there isn't anymore. You are not abandoning them by enjoying yourself, you are a stronger person and honoring their legacy by finding the strength to stand again and smile.
My name is Abby, my life has been touched many times by loss and grief. This life has led me to helping others navigate their own grief. I have become a INELDA trained End Of Life Doula and a hospice volunteer. I am not a professional counselor or psychologist and all advice given should be treated as advice from a friend.