Choosing Joy in the Wake of Loss: My Journey Through Guilt and Grief
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

As a transformational life coach, author, speaker, and host of the Melissa Hull Show, I’ve dedicated my life to supporting people as they rediscover their sense of self and wholeness. Today, I want to address one of the most challenging aspects of loss: guilt.

Guilt is a complex emotion that often accompanies grief. It’s the feeling that emerges when we dare to imagine a future without our loved ones—a future we never wanted and struggle to accept. It can make the prospect of happiness seem like a distant, unattainable dream.

I know this all too well. After the loss of my son, I was engulfed by guilt. It felt like a betrayal to even consider a life filled with laughter and light again. But grief, while it may feel all-consuming, doesn’t have to define our existence. Through my experience, I’ve learned that grief doesn’t disappear; rather, our lives can expand to become larger than our grief.

This realization dawned on me as I began to serve others, speaking about water safety education to preschools. I focused on children under the age of five, particularly boys, who statistically face the highest risk of unintentional drowning. It was through this service that I found a pathway to healing.

The guilt I carried after my son’s passing was immense. It was a struggle to feel worthy of happiness again. But a letter from another mother who had walked a similar path promised me that happiness and joy were still within reach—if I chose them. She assured me that I would have to commit to their pursuit and actively invite them into my life.

That letter became a turning point for me. It was a beacon of hope that guided me through the fog of grief. It reminded me that while the pain of loss might never fully disappear, the scope of our lives can—and should—grow beyond it. We can honor our loved ones not by remaining anchored in our sorrow, but by allowing ourselves to experience joy once more.

Embracing Happiness Again:

  • Give Yourself Permission: It’s okay to smile, to laugh, and to find joy. Grant yourself permission to feel happiness without guilt.
  • Celebrate Small Victories: Each day you find a moment of peace or a reason to smile is a victory. Celebrate these moments.
  • Serve Others: Like I did with water safety education, find a cause that is meaningful to you. Service can be a powerful channel for healing.
  • Choose Joy Daily: Make a conscious decision every day to seek out joy, whether in small pleasures or significant milestones.

The dance of grief and guilt is complex, but it’s important to remember that we are not meant to dance it alone. We can lean on each other, draw strength from shared experiences, and find comfort in the knowledge that we are all part of a larger community of healing.

If my words resonate with you, if you feel the stirrings of hope and the desire to reclaim joy in your life, I invite you to join me. Listen to my podcast, the Melissa Hull Show, where we explore these topics in depth. Visit melissahull.com to connect with a community of support, to find resources, and to take steps towards a future where grief is a part of our story, but not the entirety of it. We can weave joy into the tapestry of our lives, creating a beautiful, complex picture that honors every emotion we’ve felt.

Finding Balance Between Grief and Joy:

  • Recognize the Waves: Understand that grief comes in waves, and it’s natural to have setbacks. Accepting this can help you ride the waves with grace.
  • Connect with Memories: Allow yourself to reminisce about the good times without guilt. Memories can be a source of comfort and joy.
  • Embrace New Experiences: While honoring the past, be open to creating new memories. This can lead to a renewed sense of purpose and happiness.
  • Daily Commitment to Joy: Choose to find joy every day. It might be in a morning coffee, a call with a friend, or a moment of quiet reflection.

As we move forward, let’s choose joy, not just for ourselves, but in honor of those we’ve lost. Let’s make our lives a testament to their enduring impact, and let’s do it together.

With love and understanding, Melissa

This blog post is crafted to provide closure and a sense of hope to those who are navigating the complexities of grief. It emphasizes the importance of community and offers practical steps for those looking to find balance and joy in their lives after loss.