It's okay to embrace the happy moments that come with grief.
Normally, when writing about grief, I talk about the hard moments. Stories of being triggered by grief in public, feeling guilt, and not being okay. These hard moments make up almost the entirety of my website, yet only a fraction of my grief.
While grief has many horrible moments, it also has some good ones. Including some really, really funny ones.
A few hours after I found out my dad died, I went to his house, where my family was. A family member pulled me aside when I arrived and talked to me for a few minutes about my dad’s death and what grief was. She said a lot, but one statement has stuck with me. I’m not sure what her exact wording was, but it was something like:
“In the next few weeks, there will be times that you find yourself laughing so hard, even after you imagined that you never could again. It’s okay to laugh, though.”
So, I laughed.
I laughed at my dad’s celebration of life, which was right after his funeral and calling hours. I sat with my cousins in the corner of my dad’s favorite restaurant and listened to them tell the funniest stories.
I laughed a few weeks later when visiting my grandma and her new cat. My grandma was really sad during this visit, and while I felt sympathetic and wanted to be sad with her, all I could think was: Oh my gosh, her new cat is nuts. I wish Dad was here so we could laugh about the cat together.
I laughed when I went back to school and talked to my friends because I quickly found that my dead dad jokes are really funny. (Well, they were mostly just funny to me at first. It took some time for my friends to laugh as well.)
I laughed on the anniversary of my dad’s death this year, when I stayed up until 3 AM on a call with one of my friends. While I did cry a lot that night, it wasn’t just from sadness. It’s one of the only times I’ve cried from laughing so hard.
I laughed a few weeks ago when talking to my friends about when they found out my dad died. I have no memory of this, but apparently after finding out my dad died I texted them all something like, “Sorry if I don't answer your texts, my dad just died,” with no context or additional information whatsoever.
In those moments, and more, I laughed, and that’s okay.
It’s okay to laugh, to cry, to be joyful, to be sad, to be happy, to feel anything. You don’t have to be sad all the time to grieve.
I felt guilty when laughing at first. Every time I got over a funny moment, I would think, How could you just laugh like that? Dad is dead, nothing should be funny! I’ve realized, though, that I don’t need to feel bad for not being sad all the time. It doesn’t mean I love my dad any less or that I don’t miss him.
Whenever you find yourself wanting to laugh, laugh. Any emotions you feel are okay, and you can embrace them.
When I laugh now, I don't feel bad. I wish my dad was here to laugh with me, but instead of spending all my time sad that he isn’t, I laugh enough for the both of us.
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Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks.