I am not sure when it happened, but somehow we have arrived at a place in time where happiness has become our birth right and everyone else’s expectation. Joy is the perceived equilibrium. Happiness is not a high on a scale of human emotions, happiness is apparently where our feelings should sit the majority of the time. Countries are measured by the happiness of their inhabitants, we are constantly admonished try to be happy and if we aren’t wearing our gleeful faces, someone is likely to ask you what’s wrong.
I am a positive person. I would say that I am genuinely happy for a good percentage of the time. But through grief, my own and watching others, I have learned how violently this particular society reacts against emotions other than happiness. No matter what has occurred, not matter how tragically a life has been turned on it’s head, happiness remains the goal to aspire to. You are allowed a brief pause in sadness but dwelling there is self-pitying behaviour. The expectation is to “buck up”, “count your blessings” and “try to be happy”.
Trying to “jolly” some-one when they are in grief is not helpful. Some-one very close to a person who is grieving died. It’s okay for them to be completely devastated by that. It’s okay for that devastation to reach into weeks, months and years. It’s okay for them not to be happy. We seem terrified that “not happy” is a quick and slippery slide into the realms of deep depression and even suicide. We seem so very scared of emotions that we are taught are not positive. Yet we are all human. We are all capable of huge ranges of emotion. Our hearts have great reach, perhaps even more so when they are broken.
We need to be as comfortable with tears as we are with laughter. We need to accept there are situations that we cannot “fix” but that company and silence would go some way to mending. Sometimes we need to be okay with not okay. It goes against the grain of our modern world, but we need to make room for sadness.