Guest Post from BereavedSingleDad: Embracing The Happiness As Much As I Respect the Sadness

Hi lovely followers!

Gary has written another post that confronts feelings of guilt and happiness while grieving, and we are very proud to share it with you today! Make sure you check out his blog at bereavedsingledad.blog, it is truly inspiring.

Katie & Evee

Embracing the happiness as much as I respect the sadness.

I wrote these words a few weeks back but that’s a phrase I have been repeating to myself now for many months. It’s actually taken three years to get to this stage.  That’s where I am in 2020. It’s such a huge change in attitude for me. One which seemed impossible to contemplate when the world suddenly changed for me in 2016. 

One particular memory sticks with me from that time. It was a few months after my partners funeral and I was watching a movie with our young son. It was one of the Johnny English movies. There is one scene set in a cemetery where the bumbling spy disrupts a family funeral.  He even ended up dancing on the coffin, which he incorrectly suspected was filled with the Crown Jewels.  He only discovered his mistake when he asked one elderly gentleman what his role was in the crime and the response was – “I am the Hearse Driver”. I caught myself laughing at the graveyard antics. Suddenly I remembered the reality.  I’m grieving so I’m supposed to be sad.  My soulmate has just died. Her ashes are in the next room. It’s just not right that I’m laughing. It’s so wrong that I can find that scene so funny. Surely it makes me a bad person. An uncaring soul. And on and on.

That was my mindset back then. I can still hear the thoughts that continually rattled around my brain;

“I am in mourning it’s so wrong to laugh”,

“She’s not here to enjoy this so why should I”,

“Son needs to be happy, I don’t, I just pretend”,

“My life is over, just stop smiling, get on with crying”.

I battled those feelings for over a year. Too often they won. They dictated my behaviour.  To me it just seemed the right thing to do. There is no other word for it. It was debilitating. During that time I also mastered the skill of looking like I was happy. I could seamlessly put on a smiling mask and appear to be happy to the outside world.  I was pretending to be happy but not allowing myself to actually smile.  But slowly other words entered my thoughts. Thoughts like;

“She would want me to keep living”,

“For Son to be truly happy, I need to be happy as well”, 

“Not living is such a waste of a life”,

“It’s just as ok to be happy as it is to be sad”,

“Yes my old life is over BUT a new one has started”.

That last thought was the one that really made the penny finally drop for me. I can stand and look at my old life for as long as I want. The memories are so precious but that life is never going to reopen again. That life has stopped and no more memories can be created within it.  A new life has been opened and is still to be lived. I can still have my old memories in my new life. I can still grieve but I can also start to live again. I can do both.

So yes the old thoughts are still there but now they are mostly in the background. More often than not old memories bring smiles and happiness. I look back with so much love and thankfulness. I was truly blessed to have shared part of my life with that wonderful person. That part of me will always be there but my new life is underway. I now need to be the best parent I can possibly be for our Son.  I need to make this new life work for our Son and ME. Every so often grief will still inevitably wash over me just like the ocean tides.  I won’t fight that. It is what it is. It’s ok to be sad as Grief is just another word for Love.  I also now realise that these sad times will not last forever. They will pass. The grief tide will ebb away leaving my new life behind. 

So yes it’s ok to be happy and laugh. That’s my new life. Being happy and being that best parent I can be is the rent I need to pay for living on this planet. So tonight I might just watch that Johnny English movie again. If I do so then I will definitely laugh at the funeral scene. I will laugh because it is funny.

That’s called 

Embracing the happiness as much as I respect the sadness. 

23 thoughts on “Guest Post from BereavedSingleDad: Embracing The Happiness As Much As I Respect the Sadness

  1. Anne – I am a single mother of 2 really great young adults. I am a professional as well, and hope to tell you some funny, authentic, and encouraging stories on my blog to help encourage and empower other single or just crazily busy parents. But I need to warn you that this blog is where I work out (for myself) some crazy ideas from their bitter, salty, pretzeled-up shapes into hopefully some better-tasting pastries. Any insanely busy person can probably relate to them ... crazy times call for crazy friends sharing crazy stories so we can laugh rather than cry about the way things turn out! (usually for the best, but sometimes that takes a very long time to see)
    Anne says:

    It is hard to embrace joy while sad, but we do have a responsibility to do our best. Nice pic BD!

  2. carol hopkins – Canada – I am Canadian. I love this beautiful country and hope to discover more of it.. I enjoy writing, photography, and walks on nature trails and beaches. I am passionate about human rights and my favourite stories to read are uplifting and inspirational stories. I believe in the innate nobility of the human spirit and I endeavor to be positive. I have learned many lessons over the years, but most importantly I have witnessed the inherent goodness of peoples near and far. I hope my writing reflects that. All photographs used in my blog are mine, unless otherwise stated. Contact: camhopkins97@gmail.com
    carol hopkins says:

    Gary writes so eloquently about loss and grief and carrying on. Thanks you for sharing.

      1. carol hopkins – Canada – I am Canadian. I love this beautiful country and hope to discover more of it.. I enjoy writing, photography, and walks on nature trails and beaches. I am passionate about human rights and my favourite stories to read are uplifting and inspirational stories. I believe in the innate nobility of the human spirit and I endeavor to be positive. I have learned many lessons over the years, but most importantly I have witnessed the inherent goodness of peoples near and far. I hope my writing reflects that. All photographs used in my blog are mine, unless otherwise stated. Contact: camhopkins97@gmail.com
        carol hopkins says:

        My pleasure, I have been following his blog for quite a while now, at least a year or more. I also enjoyed yours.

      1. carol hopkins – Canada – I am Canadian. I love this beautiful country and hope to discover more of it.. I enjoy writing, photography, and walks on nature trails and beaches. I am passionate about human rights and my favourite stories to read are uplifting and inspirational stories. I believe in the innate nobility of the human spirit and I endeavor to be positive. I have learned many lessons over the years, but most importantly I have witnessed the inherent goodness of peoples near and far. I hope my writing reflects that. All photographs used in my blog are mine, unless otherwise stated. Contact: camhopkins97@gmail.com
        carol hopkins says:

        Not really, you are a talented communicator, you truly are.

  3. clairei47 – My name is Claire. I am a mum, a wife and I work for the NHS. For as long as I can remember I have drank alcohol and my relationship with it has become increasingly complex over recent years. I’m 47 and I want to be physically and mentally healthy. I want to be present in my life and enjoy the journey, not drown it out with wine and hangovers. I have had anxiety and depression and I am still working hard to keep them at bay. I am hoping that not having alcohol will help me beat them. I have decided to detail how things progress via this blog. I know nothing about blogging but I think support from others is essential. Maybe one day I can help someone with my story. I started my sober journey on 17th November 2019; long may it continue.
    clairei47 says:

    Grieving and being sad whilst allowing yourself to be happy and live must be an extremely hard place to reach. I’m so glad to read this my friend. It shows you can hold those memories close to your heart but not allow them to swallow you up. That’s what I imagine your partner would have wanted for you and your son. Lovely heartfelt post.
    Claire x

    1. Thank you Claire. x We each have to travel our own paths. Hopefully at some stage the road opens up to reveal a direction to aim for.

      1. clairei47 – My name is Claire. I am a mum, a wife and I work for the NHS. For as long as I can remember I have drank alcohol and my relationship with it has become increasingly complex over recent years. I’m 47 and I want to be physically and mentally healthy. I want to be present in my life and enjoy the journey, not drown it out with wine and hangovers. I have had anxiety and depression and I am still working hard to keep them at bay. I am hoping that not having alcohol will help me beat them. I have decided to detail how things progress via this blog. I know nothing about blogging but I think support from others is essential. Maybe one day I can help someone with my story. I started my sober journey on 17th November 2019; long may it continue.
        clairei47 says:

        I’m sure it will. I have a good feeling about it

  4. King Ben's Grandma – My name is Angie. I'm the mother of two adult daughters. I am also co-parenting my autistic grandson with his mama. We all live together in one house that is ruled by King Ben. Grandma & Mama aka Older daughter (I write semi-anonymously to protect Ben) are his loyal subjects. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse as well as domestic abuse from my alcoholic (ex)husband of 20+ years. I occasionally have problems with PTSD from the abuse and clinical depression because life & heredity. On top of that, or slithering through it, I am also disabled with Fibromyalgia. Fibro brings it's friends Fibro Fog, Insomnia, IBS & placque psoriasis to play along. Bottom line, I'm kind of a mess, a generally happy mess, but a mess all the same. My blog is part journal, part rant space with a little attempt at education mixed in. I'm a pragmatic eternal-optimist with a touch of cynicism.
    King Ben's Grandma says:

    Being happy while grieving is exactly why I’ve told my daughters that when I pass, I want them to have a big party and share memories of all the silly, dumb and klutzy things I’ve done. I WANT them to laugh. Laughter is the best way to remember me because I believe laughter is one if the best things in life.

    I think Gary’s Partner and your Mum would agree!

  5. CarolCooks2 – Udon Thani – Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them. I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling. Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing. This is now taking me into other areas like deforestation, chemicals and preservatives in the food chain. Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
    CarolCooks2 says:

    Beautifully expressed your son is lucky to have a daddy, who both remembers and has moved on with love.. A lovely post.. Beautiful picture by the way…

  6. This was very touching.. I teared up reading Gary’s account. Life after loss is always hard, especially when the person gone is so much a part of you.

      1. Right.. like everything you once knew no longer applied. Everything had to be relearned.

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