When someone you love dies living often feels like a battle of opposing thoughts, feelings, needs. It might feel like a betrayal, a travesty, to go to work, travel, eat a delicious meal, enjoy a sunset, laugh or engage with others in a way that actually feels good as you simultaneously feel despair, loneliness, anger, sorrow.

Despair and hope. Sadness and happiness. Rage and gratitude. Numbness and curiosity. Experiencing moments of hope, happiness or gratitude does not mean the absence of pain, grief or sadness. It is normal for opposing emotions to coexist. Grief, as in life, is not either/or, all or nothing, it is messy, full of complexities and opposing truths.

When grief is at its most acute it is inconceivable that there will ever be moments of respite, much less moments of gratitude or happiness. Trust, in time, those moments will come. It will be in those moments that you will recognize both/and. I miss my loved one and I am grateful for the time we shared. I am furious at the injustice of my loved ones death and I am grateful they did not suffer. I am filled with sadness when I hear that song and I smile remembering how they loved to dance whenever it came on the radio.

Feel your sadness. Grieve. Mourn. Be. There will come a time in grief that you will feel sadness while simultaneously creating space for gratitude, positive remembrance, connection to the people, work, and hobbies that fill you, still. I feel so exhausted by my grief, I just want to stay in bed and I am looking forward to playing with my grandchildren. I am overwhelmed by the thought of going back to work and I am needing the distraction and routine. The thought of looking at pictures breaks my heart and seeing how happy their life was fills me with gratitude.

Both/and is grace, gray, space to be. Both/and removes the shoulds, the guilt, the pressure to only exist in darkness. Your loved one did not exist in darkness. Your love does not exist in darkness. Neither do you.