a young widowed father opening up about living with loss
Having probably taken the happiness I had for granted over the last eight years, I lay in bed at 3am last night, sleepless and sullen, and realised just how beneficial an emotion it is.
Happiness makes us look good. It makes us glow in a way that no makeup brand or lighting director could ever recreate. So far I’ve never heard anyone at a wedding say, ‘the bride looks rough’. Beaming brides radiate and I can sincerely say that every male friend I’ve seen walk down the aisle did the same. It’s an emotion that changes our faces, straightens our postures, makes us infectious to the people around us, and allows us to smile wider and laugh louder.
Happiness makes us nicer people. It doesn’t feed off bitchy comments or quips. It doesn’t need them to survive. It doesn’t scoff, it just slowly grazes on tenderness, kindness, company, intimacy and gentle humour. It orders the tasting menu rather than the all-you-can-eat.
Happiness makes us appreciate what we have. When happiness is truly inside us it’s like a little hedgehog; unassuming, not boastful and (I’m not sure if you know this about hedgehogs) immune to the snake venom that is sorrow.
We spend our lives chasing happiness and complaining that we haven’t found it. Our holiday destinations are too cloudy. Our jobs don’t allow us to have enough fun. Our waists are too wide. Our teeth aren’t white enough. Our friends live five miles further away than we’d like.
We spend our lives talking about how we could be happier.
But then loss comes and we realise we couldn’t. We’d swap Barbados for Bognor. We’d lick stamps until our tongues bled for money. We’d put on another stone. We’d wear dentures. We’d move to another country and have dinner with mates over Skype. We’d do anything to have that person back in our lives.
We lose ourselves in talking about happiness but we don’t allow ourselves to be happy talking about loss.
My friend treated me to dinner tonight and gave a little more fuel to my fire.
I want to hear people happily talking about grief and not just grieving happiness.
Let’s continue this good conversation about grief.