“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” ~ Khalil Gibran

For more than five years, I’ve had the privilege of volunteering for www.AdamsPlaceLV.org, which is a phenomenal non-profit helping children to deal with the loss of a parent or sibling. I work with the adults and have listened to stories of unimaginable pain. Their strength amazes me. Their resilience inspires me. Each one faces a personal and unique challenge while climbing their own grief mountain, and all agree that the view at the top is exhilarating, for the simple reason that they got there.

I like to say that every down cycle is followed by an up cycle. I wholeheartedly believe that because I’m a hopeless optimist (forgive the oxymoron). I also know that because I’ve lived through the pain of grief and loss in my own life and have come out of it with a sense of joy greater than I could ever imagine. It says so right on my coffee mug: “She designed a life she loved.” And that life, the birth and growth of my mediation practice, is one of my greatest joys.

I’m sure if you thought about it, you could cite several examples of how grief and joy can live together inside your own spirit.  There are stories, both fictional and factual, about the families of heart donors finding joy in connecting with the recipient of their loved one’s heart via transplant. Or about the foster parents who adopted a whole family so that the siblings could stay together. Or the firefighter who rescued a kitten and fell in love with its owner. I mean, watch a Hallmark movie or two and you’ll understand what I’m saying. Those writers understand about the coexistence of grief and joy.

If I sound like I’m trivializing this, I apologize. I, myself, lost two family members in the past year.  Yet, I sincerely believe that surviving pain, whether physical or emotional or both, helps us to be better humans. We acquire the ability to become more resilient, more empathetic, more compassionate, more understanding, and more grateful.

I continue to find joy (and amazement) in discovering my own inner strength.  We increase the sense of our own power when we come to the realization that we have overcome yet another of life’s challenges. Sometimes the simplest act of getting through the minute, the hour, and the day is a way of demonstrating the coexistence of grief and joy. While hundreds of thousands of people in our country no longer have the ability to get through the day, let’s not squander our own accomplishments. Instead, let’s acknowledge the presence of happiness in spite of the pain.

Do you know someone who’s displayed some extraordinary inner strength while balancing joy and grief?  Would you be willing to give that person a shoutout by commenting on this article?