Happy Is The Hardest Word to Say

It's not difficult to identify people whose life has been touched by a profound loss or personal tragedy; just listen. The common question of 'How are you doing?' elicits a flat response. 'Fine, as good as can be expected, OK or I'm good' has replaced joyful exuberance, laughter or the words 'really good' and especially 'happy.' Like a scar from a deep wound there is lasting evidence that something has been inexplicably altered. The physical evidence is in the eyes where a smile never reaches or in the deafening silence where laughter seems appropriate. Their emotions are anesthetized; not from a drug but rather the natural disconnection from emotions where pain can lie dormant. Happiness is buried deep within that disconnection. For a time, it can be the hardest word to say.

How long does this retreat last? For so long as there is a fear of touching the pain again or a fear of letting go of the pain lest it means one doesn't care anymore. Neither of these ideas is tolerable, forcing the careful covering of any deep emotions. It is wrong to assume that those who are so wounded have a desire to escape; they don't. What others are seeing and hearing are truthful remnants of their emotional body. It is covered for protection, their protection. One emerges from this only when there is some reason to revisit their pain with the expectation of a different result or determination. What can provide that?

1) Understanding what and how the event occurred. Coming to terms with those facts and accepting there was nothing more that could have been done.
2) Closure; typically from the discovery of evidence and a final assessment of guilt and sentencing when a criminal act has occurred.

3) Successful fact-finding missions where one can learn about an illness or genetic issue that can release the survivors from any sense of guilt or self-recriminations.
4) Understanding that anger is fear; in this instance there may be the fear that you are somehow to blame for the final outcome, for someone's death. That can feel so heavy.
5) When a loss of a relationship has become a personal tragedy an in-depth examination of the signals one has missed along the path to a completely broken road helps to understand why it was a surprise. In almost every instance there were stop lights and caution signs that were ignored in an effort to be loved by someone important.

The rekindling of human emotions does not come from outside; it is a healing process that slowly emerges and surprises the wounded one when it surfaces. The smell of new mown grass, feeling the fresh air and noticing the smell of the air after a spring shower has passed, noticing the pitter-patter of rain on the window; these simple things that spring form nature stir our earliest memories and begin the process of reawakening. We begin to touch the outside world again with harmless things we know we can trust. Soon after comes the surprise sound of your own unexpected laughter. That sound is particularly unexpected because it has been hiding under the same blanket of grief.

Outside influences may abound as others attempt to help you 'get over' a profound loss. Yet it the inner healing that will bring you to a place where you can accept that even though you may never 'get over' your loss, you can get through it and do more than survive. You can laugh again. And when it is appropriate you will once again say the hardest word; happy.


Popular Posts