Happiness Takes Courage

Three short pieces on grief, depression & joy

Aabye-Gayle F.


Yello paint on pavement reads “happiness” under an arrow.
“You need courage to pursue and embrace joy.” {Photo by D Jonez on Unsplash.}

Happiness Takes Courage

Happiness takes courage. You have to be brave to surrender to joy. When every molecule of your being has been mourning — when loss has permeated and ruptured your heart — you must be dauntless to pursue mirth.

You must find great multitudes of grace to forgive yourself for forgetting to mourn — for laughing wholeheartedly — for having a good day, week, or month. Any sabbatical from grief feels unforgivable at first. Inhabiting happiness is something you must relearn.

It is a challenge to stop hopping through life on one foot because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is hard to feel light when worry upon worry upon worry is weighing you down.

It is not easy to trust your feelings when they’ve hurt you so much. Dealing with death would be much less formidable if we didn’t love. Depression wouldn’t be such a low without joy and hope’s antipodal highs. Dim is only dim in contrast to light.

This is why hope and happiness don’t come easily to all and are not for those faint of heart. You need courage to pursue and embrace joy when you know it can all fall apart.

Silhouette of a man in a dark room standing in front of a bright window.
“That familiar darkness — most visible when life is most bright.” {Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash.}

That Familiar Darkness

It’s waiting for me — that familiar darkness. It is never fully out of sight. Like a shadow it follows me — most visible when life (like the sun) is most bright.

And even in my resisting, I am actually just easing into it — slipping it on. That well-known gloom engulfing me like a well-worn robe — so tattered it’s cozy — a discomfort that feels like home.

I have already waded in. Its subtle undertow has taken hold. Everything is work — like walking through deep snow. There is nowhere else to go.

That familiar darkness has come for me, and (like a child with separation anxiety) I don’t want to go.

I know that I will survive — perhaps even learn and grow. But I don’t know how long the tunnel is. And I’m still afraid of the…