The English author and cleric Robert Aris Willmott said, “Joy and grief are never far apart.” I’ve found that in my own personal grief situations, I do have to work at the joy part. Looking for joy is like flexing a muscle, and every day I seek to strengthen my awareness of joy all around me.
I recently lost a friend, co-worker and mentor to cancer. To say she fought her battle in the most beautiful, joyful way sounds strange, but that was Merv. She was a beauty both inside and out. I was angry that she didn’t get what she was joyfully certain she would achieve, which was victory over her disease. She simply saw no other alternative and because of her, we didn’t either. Merv died on a Sunday, the day after another dear friend, co-worker and mentor would have celebrated her 78th birthday. Her name was Margo and she appears in my sub-conscience every now and then with one of her little words of wisdom, or to whisper calm down Lora Sue, or to simply give me the inspiration to sparkle something up in my life. I know this makes no sense to anyone but me, but I’m certain Margo and Merv are sharing a bottle of wine in the afterlife. They’ll hit it off. They both had a deep certainty that there was good everywhere. This to me is joy in the face of grief.
Are you familiar with the movie and television industry’s little trick called Easter eggs? It’s something that certain writers like to do. They hide a secret little image or message in the background of their programs and call them Easter eggs. Alfred Hitchcock and Stan Lee were both famous for doing this. Both would insert themselves somewhere in the background of a scene. It’s really kind of genius if you think about it. Hunting for an Easter egg makes you pay more attention to the movie. Some other fun Easter eggs in movies includes hidden hieroglyphs of C-3PO and R2-D2 in Raiders of the Lost Ark or Sid’s reappearance in Toy Story 3.
While I’m writing this, people have to stay at home for Easter egg hunts thanks to a rotten egg called COVID 19. The grief caused by this virus is all around us – the loss of friends or loved ones, the loss of important family events like weddings and graduations, and the loss of businesses and jobs. Loss, loneliness and anxiety cause us to grieve. It’s OK, even healthy, to grieve and we need to recognize that when it happens to us. But try and look for some joy too. Have an Easter egg hunt and look for joy. Doing so won’t minimize or eliminate the grief, but it might add more dimension and meaning as we heal.
Because we write these articles months in advance sometimes, we may be a long way from Easter when this goes to print. This seems OK to me though, because I think we’re all going to need some time to recover from the grief handed out in the spring of 2020. So I say to you, keep your Easter baskets out and collect those eggs year round. Joy isn’t going anywhere.
Dedicated in loving memory of Mervet Adams, long time Health Alliance Community Liaison and great friend.
Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Allianceä. She’s the mother of two terrific boys, a world traveler and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan. Like this article? Feel free to respond to Longview@HealthAlliance.org. Thanks for reading!