Sorrowful Joy ...
Updated: May 3, 2022
... when we feel both happy and sad.
We are often encouraged to look for joy in the midst of sorrow - what if we allowed ourselves to acknowledge sorrow in the midst of joy?
COVID rearranged the world as we knew it and memories of life events will differ from what we intended them to be;
- A wedding celebration or funeral is downsized and important guests are unable to attend.
- A graduation ceremony is constantly postponed.
- A career choice, known for its stability, suddenly becomes vulnerable.
- A sporting event is canceled after months of intense training to participate.
Many joyous events and occasions have now had ‘but’ attached to the invitation - “But, due to COVID restrictions …”
What do we do with the ‘but?’ This was not how it was meant to be!
Can we allow ourselves to feel sadness, disappointment, frustration, AND also celebrate a happy occasion with joy and gratitude?
“When we rearrange joy as more than mere happiness we make space for sorrowful joy” Cole Arthur Riley.
Sorrowful joy is celebrating a significant family event … but one family member is absent due to death, divorce, distance, or detachment.
Sorrowful joy is what is felt when you choose to leave a work environment because of retirement or change in employment …but you also face the loss of connection with what you love to do, or the positive relationships you had with your team.
Sorrowful joy is receiving the diagnosis your cancer is in remission ... but you cannot retrieve the months/years of your life that were lost to illness.
What is your sorrowful joy experience?
You may be familiar with the animated movie 'Inside Out'. Much of the film takes place in the head of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, with five emotions — Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust — that help Riley navigate her world. In one scene Joy attempts to prevent Sadness from having any influence on Riley’s life but her attempts backfire and Joy learns to accept that Sadness has an important role in balancing Riley’s emotional life. Sadness allows Riley to make meaning of what she is experiencing.
If you observe feelings of sadness, accompanying your happiness of a life event, stay curious about why that is.
Sometimes we need to grieve for what could have been, in the midst of embracing joy for what is. When we can gain meaning about why we are experiencing sorrowful joy, we can gain an understanding of how to be with it. Emotions are ‘energy in motion.’ By acknowledging the energy of both positive and negative feelings, we allow all emotions to move through our mind, body, and soul without resistance. Your well-being will thank you for it.