This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor … Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
When we have walked the path of grief for a long enough period of time, we discover the small moments of lightness that magically appear during our day. Magical moments like someone smiling at us in the grocery store when we feel afraid and lonely. Someone holding a door open for us when we feel exhausted. Receiving a text from an old friend telling us they are thinking
about us. While the reality of our loss has not changed, we can receive periodic reprieves from the pain of grief. These moments feel like a healing salve on a nasty wound. In time, the reprieves last longer and slowly we begin to turn the corner away from the heavy lifting of grief.
My personal journey of grief continues to transform me. I am more particular with how I spend my time and with whom I share my precious life. I don’t regularly watch the news, I shy away from violent movies. I attempt to limit how much time I spend on social media. Right now I am in a very blessed time of my life. I feel content in my skin. However, the world around me feels threatening, frightening and unpredictable. I witness the anguish being experienced by so many people. I often feel selfish for feeling joy in my personal life. Is it ok to feel joy when there is so much suffering around us?
I say without reservation, that we MUST embrace joy when it appears. As Rumi shares above, joy arrives like a wonderful guest at any given point in our day. Why would we reject or ignore the presence of such a blissful guest as joy? Like filling up our gas tank with fuel, it’s in our best interest to regularly fill up our joy tank as well.
Guidelines for welcoming joy:
- In the moment, recognize what is bringing you joy.
- Welcome the joy and breathe it in.
- Digest the joy.
- Metabolize the joy. It’s yours!
- Share and express the joy with others – joy is contagious.
- Feel grateful.
- Thank the universe for the gift of joy.
- Expect more moments of joy. They will return.
I clearly remember one particular experience of joy after my husband’s death. It had only been seven months since his death and it was my first Valentine’s Day without him. I joined my spiritual community for dinner. I wore a red coat that I had bought for a trip that Roy and I had taken to Paris a few years earlier.
When I entered the restaurant to join my friends, I was aware of experiencing joy, not only the weight of grief. I was out in the world again. I was wearing my favorite coat – red not black. I was with people who loved me. I was aware of being alive and I sensed that I was going to make it. I took it all in. Joy melted into gratitude. And gratitude gelled into distinct and welcome moments of happiness. These moments were a relief from the grief.
I continue to learn that grief prepares us for joy. No matter how painful life may be, I encourage you to expect joy to visit you.