After my husband, Mike, passed away, simple, everyday occurrences that at one time were easily taken care of caused me to feel insecure, frightened and sad. I sometimes felt a great deal of anger. There were moments when I wanted to go for a walk or a drive, and keep going and never look back.

I had to be methodical as I moved forward, and take daily life in organized steps, as one might when managing a project. I completed daily small projects that in time helped to complete larger ones. Eventually, my emotions began to feel more under control, even if somewhat robotic and numb.

More often, I have the renewed emotion of pure happiness that causes me to feel nearer to my old self. I forget I have lost someone. I laugh and just “am.” When this sensation of true happiness occurs, it feels strange and scary, but welcome. I want to dive into the moment and get swallowed up in it. I wish for my mind to experience consecutive days with sincere happiness, but for now, I must wait for it to come naturally and unforced.

When I feel unforced happiness, I look at the source causing the unexpected close call with the true emotion. It takes me by surprise when certain experiences or people bring me closer to the elusive regular feeling of joy.

I recently took a trip to Lowe’s with a group of friends. I found myself joking in a way I hadn’t for a long while. We made our time there fun and memorable, with silly antics and deep belly laughs. It felt natural and comfortable. I didn’t want what could have been a mundane trip to Lowe’s to end.

A couple of days ago I spent a few hours with a friend looking through a book of photographs, and doing a crossword puzzle together. Those too-short minutes are now etched in the happy area of my brain, forever to be remembered as special, because I realized I felt pure unplanned happiness doing nothing important with someone whose company I enjoy. It was that simple.

I’m finding I need to learn how to process my new, true happy feelings. They can lead to confusion. I think it’s because my mind has been focused for so long on dealing with loss and with a forced feeling of joy. I also think there’s a certain amount of guilt because I’m moving on from sadness and mourning.

This is an unexpected stage as I continue to recover from the loss of my spouse. I know my emotions will eventually even out. I hope to be able to process and express my feelings more easily as the days move forward. It will take time, but I will get there.

How have others who have suffered the loss of a loved one dealt with this new stage I’m experiencing? I never expected the feeling of happiness to lead to confusion. It’s jarring to the system. Ah, life.

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