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Mind by Design



Coping with Grief:
The Normalcy of Mourning Amidst Happiness

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How is it that we can be actively coping with grief while simultaneously experiencing joy and happiness? This unlikely pairing of grief and joy is not uncommon, but leaves many of us feeling torn and maybe even a bit confused.  At times, we find ourselves on cloud nine, and at other moments, we’re plunged into the depths of sadness. But have you ever wondered why, during some of the happiest moments of our lives, a shadow of grief appears? Let’s delve into this emotional paradox and understand its roots.

The Emotional Spectrum

The Complexity of Human Emotions

Emotions aren’t black and white. They exist on a spectrum, and sometimes, they overlap in the most unexpected ways. Just as sunshine can coexist with rain, resulting in a beautiful rainbow, happiness can sometimes be accompanied by a touch of grief.

Memory Lane

Often, happy moments remind us of past experiences. These memories might bring back feelings of loss, missed opportunities, or loved ones who are no longer with us. For instance, a wedding might remind someone of a departed parent, casting a shadow over the joyous occasion.

Understanding & Coping with Grief in Everyday Life

In the realm of mental health, it’s widely accepted that grief is a natural response to loss. However, in everyday conversations, this understanding often goes unnoticed. Many feel guilty or out of place for experiencing sadness during moments of joy. This silence can be detrimental, as it prevents individuals from expressing their true feelings and seeking the support they need.


It’s crucial to recognize and validate these emotions. Embracing the full spectrum of feelings allows us to process them healthily. Remember, it’s okay to feel a mix of happiness and sorrow. These emotions can coexist without overshadowing one another. In fact, acknowledging both can lead to a deeper appreciation of life’s complexities.

The Science Behind It

Brain Chemistry & Emotions

Our brain is a complex organ, and its chemistry plays a significant role in our emotional responses. The release of certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, can influence feelings of happiness. However, these chemicals can also trigger memories associated with grief or sadness, especially when the brain is overwhelmed with emotions.

NLP & Emotional Responses

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) suggests that our language and thought patterns can influence our emotional state. When we’re in a heightened state of happiness, our brain might use this as an opportunity to process unresolved grief, leading to mixed emotions.

Embracing the Duality

Acceptance is Key

It’s essential to understand that it’s okay to feel grief during happy times. Emotions are a natural part of the human experience, and they don’t always fit into neat boxes. By accepting and acknowledging these feelings, we can process them more healthily.

Finding Balance

While it’s essential to embrace all emotions, it’s equally crucial to find a balance. If feelings of grief are overwhelming, it might be helpful to speak to a professional or confide in a trusted friend.

How we help clients Coping with Grief

At Mind by Design Counseling, we believe that everyone’s experience is unique. That’s why we tailor our approach to fit your specific needs.

Coping with Grief Through Expressive Art Therapy

A chance to express yourself and your emotions through art. It’s not about being a great artist, but about exploring and understanding your feelings.

Coping with Grief Through Narrative Therapy

A way to tell your story and find new perspectives on your experiences.

It’s okay to seek help when things get tough. In fact, it’s a strong and proactive step towards better mental health. Whether you’re dealing with grief, stress, or both, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Final Thoughts on Coping with Grief In Everyday Life

Life is full of ups and downs, and our emotional responses are a testament to our depth as human beings. While it might seem paradoxical to feel grief during happy times, it’s a natural part of our emotional fabric. By understanding and embracing these feelings, we can navigate the complexities of our emotions and lead a more fulfilled life.

Kristin Justice, LAC online therapist in New Jersey