Do you think grief and joy can coexist? If you are a born-again follower of Jesus Christ, then absolutely, it’s true, this is the way grief and joy can coexist. How? You can grieve with hope knowing you’ll be reunited with your loved ones in Heaven. At the bottom of this post, you will find a link to 84 Bible verses about grief that are extremely helpful for this reminder.

Can Grief And Joy Coexist? 6 Proven Ways It's Possible

I’m extremely excited that Maree Dee from Embracing the Unexpected has joined our Hope for Grief: A Grief and Loss Collaboration Series. Continue reading her post below on how grief and joy coexist together.

What helps you to allow grief and joy to coexist?

Does it sound absurd that grief and joy can coexist? There was a time when I didn’t believe that two opposite emotions could simultaneously be present.

After all, something felt wrong about feeling any delight when faced with sorrow.

After years of trying to cover up my God-given emotions, I now see the immense value in allowing them to exist at the same time. However, it takes practice.

There are all kinds of losses in this world that create grief. Sometimes they come from death, but our biggest hurts often come from living life.

Friendship goes awry, illness ravages our bodies, divorce happens, infertility and so much more can create sorrow. It can be challenging to see the joy if we haven’t embraced the pain.

We will have to work hard to embrace both grief and joy simultaneously. However, the hard work will be worth it in the end. 

The Struggle To Embrace Grief And Joy Together

Of course, it is challenging to embrace painful emotions, and sometimes equally as hard to embrace joy when hurt is present.


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3 Reasons Why One Might Struggle to Embrace Grief and Joy Together

1. We are Busy Hiding Our Pain

We tend to avoid the uncomfortable, especially if the grief comes from losses that are not obvious to others. 

2. Joy Feels Wrong

Perhaps the grief is uncontainable and joy feels wrong amid such sorrow

Grief Recovery Assessment Sheets

3. We Are Unaware that Two Opposite Emotions Can Coexist

Maybe, we have never stepped back to see that one emotion does not have to cancel the other out. A child missing from a Mother’s Day celebration can sting, yet we can embrace the joy of the other children present.

Guided Grief Journal: One Day at a Time

The Importance of Embracing Grief and Joy 

  • Pretending a feeling doesn’t exist is exhausting
  • Joy is contagious
  • Modeling healthy emotions is valuable 
  • God created us to feel
  • Embrace the struggle
  • Joy helps us to persevere
  • We will miss out on what God has provided in the present moment
  • Hidden sorrow leaks out when you least expect it.

When Grief and Joy Collided

Excitedly, we loaded up our car and headed over 650 miles to Utah. My son Ethan, our family’s baby, was graduating college, and I was going ahead to put the finishing touches on the festivities.

We had a party planned, people were flying in, and the excitement was mounting. However,  upon arriving, our dog fell ill. Quickly we found a vet to see her on Sunday, but by evening we watched in horror as her hind legs seized up and were unable to move.

Then in the middle of our late-night struggle, I could hear the phone ringing in the other room. Glancing at my missed calls, I saw it was from my best friend’s daughter.

An uneasy feeling immediately swept over me. Within seconds my husband called, blubbering out nonsense to me. Maree, “I think Kamran is dead.”

I yelled back, “What do you mean—I think?” 

He couldn’t quite utter the truth he had heard only seconds before. After all, this was a young man we considered family. Our children had grown up together.

He came in and out of our home as if it was his. Plus, his momma is my dear friend. In his early years, he was the one who barged through the door, yelling out  “Mrs. Dee where are you,” and he later changed it to Mom. 

After confirming the truth, I made the dreaded call to my son to tell him one of his best friends had passed away. My daughter and I then jumped in the car and headed again to the emergency vet, where we received dire news that our dog wouldn’t make it. 

The pain was insurmountable, and the losses were almost unbelievable. For a second or two, my thoughts entertained the idea that it would be impossible to carry on with the graduation festivities. Yet, Kamran was full of life and I had no doubt he would want us to carry on. 

Our family was no stranger to embracing grief and joy simultaneously. We learned long ago through mental health challenges that life can blow up in a second, and pulling out the enjoyment in the moments helps keep us going.

After all, what if the pain never dissipates? We would miss out on the moments of joy.

As I put the final touches on Ethan’s video of his college years, I ached as pictures of Kam jumped off the screen. I pondered, removing his smiling face from the slide show in hopes of lessening the pain.

However, Kam was part of those years and brought tremendous happiness to our lives. One can’t delete a picture and think we have avoided the pain. 

So, as I had done on so many occasions, I sat down with God and chose to embrace the moments of grief and joy. 

With God, my smiles were genuine as I celebrated Ethan’s accomplishment. The happiness was real as we gathered with family and friends and talked about the man Ethan had become.

Right in the middle of all that joy was grief. Salty wet tears would periodically roll down my face as I embraced the enormous pain of losing Kamran. I laughed, I cried, and God was right there with me.

It helped to know that Kamran was busy in Heaven with his celebration, and I knew he would have been sorely disappointed had we chosen to miss Ethan’s celebration. 

After all, these were God-given moments once gone, never to be replaced. With God by my side, I have no doubt grief and joy can coexist, and one will not cancel the other out. 


6 Proven Ways to Embrace Both Emotions of Grief and Joy at the Same

We each possess the ability to experience two vastly different emotions, and one does not have to cancel the other out. However, we must choose to embrace grief and look for joy in every moment.

Here are a few ways that help me.

Draw Near to God

As we move closer to the Lord, He will comfort us and point us toward joy. Perhaps start your day with God, I even pray for laughter, and He never disappoints.

Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Believe that Grief and Joy can Coexist

If we don’t trust that both can exist simultaneously, we won’t see the joy.

Choose to Notice and Experience the Two Opposite Emotions

We must not dismiss our pain but embrace it and be on the lookout for joy.

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

When we have our eyes fixed on Him, we can persevere through any unexpected happening, big or small, and find joy. Fix your eyes on Jesus in prayer.  

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Live in the Present Moment

We don’t have to live yesterday and tomorrow right now. Sometimes the current minute will ache, but it is better to experience only one moment of pain rather than all the past and future suffering. Look for joy in the present moment.

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 

When Joy Feels Wrong, Fight the Urge to Dismiss it

We must push the feelings of joy being wrong aside so we will have more to offer the people we love. Plus, we need all the happiness we can muster up—life is hard, and joy will carry us through grief.

Even in the middle of grief, we must choose joy. We must look for it and embrace it.

Yet, if we don’t choose to embrace our God-given emotions, we will miss out on what the Lord has in store.

Recognizing Your Emotions
Maree Dee Bio

Maree Dee is a Writer | Speaker | Mental Health Advocate | and Ministry Leader—passionate about encouraging and equipping others to embrace life in the midst of the unexpected. She is a warrior who doesn’t give up when life gets tough. Maree believes, that together with God, we can all find incredible joy along the way, even when surrounded by tremendous pain. Drop by and visit Maree’s on Embracing the Unexpected.  You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Embracing Faith and Mental Illness.

Your Turn

Unrecognized grief will eat at our souls, and delight not captured will be lost forever. After all, we can’t get our moments back, and the joy we let in will help us persevere in the pain. One Final Thought…If God brings you to it…He will see you through it. Be sure to check out Bible verses about grief to help you when you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one.

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