Can Joy and Grief Coexist?

I hide in my bathroom more than I like to admit.

I watch my phone more than I like to admit.

I get lost in my work more than I like to admit.

I escape from my “so-called life” more than I would like to admit.

The pain of watching my mother suffer from dementia hurts at the very core of my being.  To use my brother’s words, “It is horrible.”  Watching her leave us each day is incredibly painful.  Hiding and escaping ease the pain. 

Yet recently, I realized that despite this grief, I have found pockets of profound JOY in my work teaching students and helping parents. Creating my business, “Learning in the Living Room” has been the realization of a lifelong dream.

 My mom knew this was my dream, and she was my biggest cheerleader, and now there are days that she doesn’t even remember who I am. Nothing breaks my heart more, and at times I cannot help but feel a little guilty that I can be happy about my success when my mother’s world is falling apart.

So, I wonder, “Can joy exist with grief?”

Lisa Young, a pastor’s wife, found it “amazing how joy and grief can coexist” during loss.

“But really?” I ask myself.

And then I hear a young student shouting out to me as she is leaving, “I love you, Terri!”

And there it is – JOY.  JOY unspeakable, in the midst of my sadness.

What a paradox!  Two diametrically opposed emotions can exist at the same time. It almost defies logic, but I know with GOD all things are possible.  What a blessing!

I feel most fortunate to be able to do what I love to do most in life, which is teach children. I continually thank the parents of my students, and I hope they know just how much I appreciate their faith in me to educate their children especially during a pandemic.

Their boundless energy, their sincere desire to learn, their infectious laughter, their extraordinary social and academic growth, and their genuine hope in the future are inspirational to say the least.  Being such an integral part of the lives of my students has brought me great HAPPINESS in an otherwise very sad year.

So yes, JOY can exist in the grief. 

Perhaps I can hide a little less now.

And perhaps, I can feel a little less guilty, knowing that my mom would want me to be happy, too.