Living With Grief

Choose Happy

Hats off to you (phrase): Used to express congratulations to someone or something

  • You can choose your friends
  • You can choose what you eat
  • You can “choose kind” (a quote/idea from one of my fave books, Wonder. There’s a character called Summer in the tale, and she’s just the most wonderful little girl. Auggie’s pretty great too.)

But can you choose to be happy? I used to think so, now I’m not so sure.

It’s easy to choose happy, when you’ve none of the heavy stuff going on. You can feel so great and hippy and zen about it all. I know that, because I used to be able to choose it. Keeping up with the Joneses? We were the Joneses.

But try spouting about the law-of-attraction and practicing gratitude in the immediate aftermath (or if you no longer think I’m in the immediate aftermath, let’s call it the ‘shadow’) of loss. Pull that off and THEN tell me to choose happy. Only when you’ve walked in remotely similar shoes can I take that suggestion on board, because ain’t nobody choosing these shoes! Heavy, impractical, caked in mud.

It reminds me of my pregnancy announcements blog, choosing happy/positivity/gratitude and silver linings/angels/rainbows is the perfect response to this wholly imperfect situation.

Do you know where I physically type my blogs from? I type them from a desk in our spare room which is positioned exactly – EXACTLY – where, in a perfect and parallel universe, a cot would have been placed. My desk is narrow, so my desk chair is actually sat within the perimeter of my ghost-of-a-cot. That’s pretty messed up, right?

Choose happy, though!



When the proverbial hits the fan and you get up to deal with it, because there’s no other option, that’s not choosing happy. That’s putting on a brave face, a mask. A farce.

Tell me, is there anything quite like a forced smile? My siblings are a toothy bunch, all four of us wore braces and we’re (all bar one) show-all-your-pearly-whites type smilers. So I’m used to displaying a huge grin when a camera appears, but it was only recently that I felt the falsehood, right to the very core of me. From the corners of my reluctant mouth, to the depths of my heavy heart. I felt it. I felt the exact opposite of what I was physically portraying (gratitude: at least I haven’t felt that feeling until recently). I looked at that photo afterwards, and hats off to me, that smile could even have fooled me. If only these moments came without memory.

How different everything could be, if encounters came without memory. If they just were. Existing for just a moment and then wiped free of any lingering emotion.

You know, I keep coming on here, intending to choose happy. To write a nicer, kinder, positive blog for you all. Because that’s who I was, that’s who I remember. Instead, all this crazy spills out. And I mean that: it POURS out, freely, without prompting. I’m losing myself here.

I think I know where this blog has come from. It’s because I was on a work call where a guy said that his pregnant overdue wife is fed-up of waiting now (that was the trigger). One tiny innocuous comment – small-talk at best – and boom: approaching 600 words of my follow-up thoughts (this is the spiral). I’ve haven’t chosen happy: I’ve chosen envy.

By writing this, I haven’t chosen kind either, have I? But then again, I chose that quote in the times when it was much easier to. I’ll find some better suited ones for times like these.

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(3) Comments

  1. Jo M says:

    I was having very similar thoughts to these at apparently the same time! I feel like I “reach out” into the loss community usually only when I’m in a bad emotional place and need some happy comments. I HOPE that one day my IG account for my son will be filled with *happy* posts. I do want to be happy again, but as you said I think most people, especially those without this loss, expect that you are over it after so many months. It still feels like the immediate aftermath! It’s been over 3 months for me, but I just received his birth certificate yesterday (which, by the way, had a big fat DECEASED written across the top). And his due date is still just a couple weeks away. But we still have the rest of the year to get through. The holidays without him, his first birthday. All that stuff, feels very aftermathy.

    Anyway… just wanted to tack onto your thoughts a little and comment so you know I’m reading. 🙂

    1. Anjulie says:

      Always love to hear your thoughts, Jo. Especially as you seem to pick up on the most vulnerable elements. You make me feel less crazy! You totally get it. I’m relieved and equally sorry about that. 5 months and it still feels like the immediate aftermath for me, especially as the “it’s a girl, she’s here!” announcements are now pouring in. So many milestones. I fear, an infinite number. But we’re in it together, in the best worst club. We’ve got this. xx

  2. Sangeeta says:

    We live in a world where toxic positivity seems to be fashionable. It’s okay not to be okay; please don’t leave my side or feel i’m spouting negativity in the world. I am on a journey of self acceptance because only from there can anything new evolve.

    People choose to be around happy people – good vibes and all. But if you have travelled the journey besides me; share that kindness and compassion by allowing me to express my saddness. I also hope there comes a time that my sadness is not the biggest feature in my life, but my grief will always stay with me.

    Who does not feel envy ey, then there is a guilt attached to that whereby I have to remind myself everyone has their own struggles. But my envy does not detract from that. I can still feel happy for you but sad for me.

    I have not had a loss like yours; i cannot fathom the pain of losing a child and hope I never do. Lots of love to you x

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