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The Question of Happiness

The question of happiness came up in a discussion on one of my support group pages. I am paraphrasing, but essentially, the writer asked how we ever find happiness after a grief like we suffer on a caregiving journey. My primary response was “I don’t think I know what happiness is right now, I am just grateful to no longer be in constant emotional pain.”

I have done a bit of thinking since that conversation, and think I can finally frame this happiness thing in what I feel is a fairly useful way for us all.

In studying on the definition of happiness I found many, but all seem to agree, happiness is a feeling, or a set of feelings, aggregated over time.

Given the hellish experience of a caregiving journey and eventually losing our people to disease, a person must proactively manage their experiences in a way that maintains as much joy as possible, as much purpose as possible, as much connection as possible during the journey. What we are left with at the end of that journey becomes the baseline of rebuilding the rest of our lives.

How one does this is personal; you must find the way yourself, but it is as important to do as the care you give to your loved one. If we fail to care for our emotional well-being, we might not survive the journey, or if we do, we may never make our way back to any semblance of meaning, or purpose, or, eventually, happiness.

Sitting where I am, little more than one year after my husband’s death, I finally can see how happiness may someday be possible, but it will be so only after I have collected enough positive experiences, forged enough meaning over time to counter the negative of our journey, and the pain of our loss. And the pain, being extensive, the amount of time moving forward, mining for the positive, the meaning, the purpose, must be equally extensive, must span a great deal of time before I can find my way back to a state remotely resembling happiness.

For now, I must content myself with “not in a constant state of emotional pain.” And I must move forward with purpose, and meaning, seeking daily joy as I did during my caregiving journey.

To simply exist is all we can do some days, and on our worst days will have to be enough, but I know that it’s the next day, and the next, and the next after that will lead to my eventual happiness.

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Dec 30, 2023

6 months ago as a caregiver I was drowning in a whirlwind of emotions. I’m sure you all know the ones I’m talking about. I had to do something or i would not be any good to my pals. I gave myself permission to go to church. I found a full gospel church and went. It was liberating. Gods word gives us Joy and the joy of the Lord is our strength. Strength to fight off the enemy that is trying to hold us down. Strength to fight and win. That means victory. Church and God has been my refuge during this difficult time.


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