It’s difficult seeing clearly when viewing life through the clouded eyes of grief. Whether you’ve lost a loved one recently or whether it’s been years or decades and the veil that’s clouding your vision still hasn’t lifted, perhaps it’s time to take matters into your own hands. External circumstances (i.e., death) put the veil in place; internal efforts are what lift it.
At some point, you get used to grief. It’s familiar being sad, so you stay sad. You’re approached with a sympathetic look so you keep on being sad. I questioned whether it was okay to smile or appear happy. I started to feel programmed, and I disliked that programmed feeling even more than I disliked grief. It was time for me to start lifting the veil that I had grown accustomed to living behind. If you catch yourself thinking that you, as the bereaved, need to speak or look a certain way, then it is time for you to peel back the shroud a little as well.
There are no parameters or timeframes to how long you “should” be sad in order to be a proper little griever. It’s neither a job description nor a role to play, so don’t make it one. If you want to smile, then smile. Doing so does not dishonor your loved one or make you an insensitive person. There’s no right or wrong to it; you’re just being yourself in the moment. If something strikes you as funny? Laugh. Give a barking belly laugh punctuated with a snort if that’s what feels right. In that span of a few seconds, you’ve forgotten that you’re “supposed” to be sad. Congratulations – you’ve just caught a glimpse of yourself coming out from behind the veil.