When Grief And Joy Collide
It starts with a rumble. A deep stirring within your blood that bubbles and boils and cools, all at once—the makings of smooth, sticky caramel chews. The makings of you.
A liquid until it cools and forms, a solid until it melts on the tongue. Not quite hard yet not exactly soft either. A candy stuck between two worlds.
Grief and joy swirl together, leaving your soul in the same limbo as those rich caramels. Neither here, nor there. Sort of just existing in an alternate space, undefined.
This pull of the soul feels like purgatory. How can one heart feel such conflicting things at one time? Will this tug-of-war ever end? And if it does, will it be the grief or the joy to come out victorious?
There is also beauty here, in the void. A differentness in tears that form from both sorrow and glee. They seem to carry radiance—unicorn tears that are neither happy nor sad, but rather, a fusion of our two most powerful emotions. The joy. The grief. They intertwine.
They connect us to life, to mortality, to our humanness. When joy and grief collide they compel us to reach for the heads, and hands, and hearts of the people we love more deliberately. We want to pick their brains and hear their stories. We want to embrace their bodies and hold them close. We want to fill their souls with riches and warmth.
The hardest part about navigating the two is the guilt and fear that lingers.
We feel that we must either show the world we can do hard things with a smile on our face, or that we must suffer in the darkness of our tragedy. We believe that we can show ourselves getting on with life or struggling to get out of bed, but not both.
The holidays amplify this. There is an unspoken pressure to feel the magic, the twinkle, the spirit of the season. Grief doesn’t feel welcome among the Christmas pines and scent of gingerbread. And yet, like the caramel, you melt together—both grief and joy. You feel the enchantment of the tinsel and breathe the carbon monoxide of the chimney. You relish in the amusement of your children and feel the lead in your feet on the holiday stroll. The festivity. The poison. The cheer. The agony.
I want you to know, here and now, that you can drop the rope. You can throw up the white flag and surrender this tug-of-war game—declaring a tie. Declaring disqualification of both players. Contrary to popular belief, grief and joy are not enemies hellbent on tearing the other apart. You, me, we must stop pinning them against one another.
This is not a case of multiple personalities competing to submerge as the dominant one. You don’t have to be either, or. You don’t have to choose.
This season, amongst the festivities, allow your grief and your joy to collide. Sob at the light parade in a crowd full of people, burst out in laughter at the Elf on the Shelf idea your friend came up with, let someone hold you up when you’re too weak to stand, grab someone’s hand and feel the warmth of their skin against yours and the love transferring through your grip, sleep through the tree decorating when your body begs you for rest, grin from ear to ear with pride over your favorite holiday movie.
Be this and that all at once, and nothing less. Bubble and boil and cool, all at once. Tough, and rich, and messy, and smooth. Not quite hard, yet not exactly soft either. Grief and joy, hand in hand.
The makings of you. Perfect, just as you are.