Joy Sackett Wood

Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Grief Transformation Coach & Author

Feeling bad about feeling good

When we experience deep sorrow for whatever reason, one of the hardest things that follows can be feeling good once again.  A moment of happiness can fill us with remorse, guilt and all sorts of other things – isn’t it ironic that a feeling of happiness can make us feel so bad.

It is incredibly hard when you have experienced great sadness or loss to trust that things may finally be looking up. However, when things do start to finally head on the right path, the guilt we experience can often set us back.

Why do we feel this way? Perhaps because a feeling of happiness or even just feeling okay can make us feel like we’re okay with what has happened and that we’re ready to move on, which of course we might not be ready to do. It feels simply wrong.

What you should remember is that this is all perfectly normal and whilst it might feel like you’re the only one experiencing these feelings, you’re really not alone. Mistakenly, people think that their grief needs to end and be complete before they can once again be free to enjoy happiness and good things.

Coping with the feelings that come with grief is a complicated matter.  Someone asking, ‘how are you?’ can be very innocent on their part but open such a complex can of worms for you. You may not want to admit you’re struggling but find it equally difficult to answer that you’re okay, meaning there is no actual answer you can give.

What we need to understand is that we don’t just feel one emotion at any given time. According to Google we can have anywhere between 50,000-80,000 thoughts per day and our emotions, which are very closely tied to our thoughts, also tend to change with them.

The whole “If I am happy then I can’t be sad anymore” logic simply isn’t true. Not all 80,000 thoughts we experience in a day are going to be happy or all sad. There will be a mix of everything depending on where we are, what we are doing and what we are experiencing.

If you have recently experienced a loss, don’t be afraid to smile or even laugh. A moment of happiness should be a welcome moment of respite from the overwhelmingness that can be grief. Equally, if you’re at a good time in your life when everything is going well, don’t feel bad if you feel a little down. We can’t be happy, sunshine people all the time.

We will never eradicate the feeling of guilt for feeling happy when we are in fact sad, but know that it’s okay and you aren’t alone.