By Adele Kirkby-Clarke
The photo below was one of the ones I never posted. I struggled immensely with this photo. I didn’t show anyone this photo because I was worried about what other people would think. How was it that I could take a photo of both my boys at a time like this? And how was it that my eldest was still smiling? And I, on the other side of the camera was smiling too? It didn’t make sense. It felt wrong.
It was only recently when I was reflecting on how it was that we have made it through such adversity and have continued to smile that this photo seemed pivotal.
To us, happiness isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. In order to maintain the strength to keep fighting this uncertain battle, we need happiness. Happiness is what keeps our minds and hearts afloat through times of immense suffering and uncertainty. It gives us the energy to take the next hit. It’s makes the days bearable. It keeps us feeling alive.
If we only see the pain we won’t cope, there is simply too much pain. We need happiness to help us counteract the pain. We need happiness to help us remain hopeful.
It’s easier said than done to allow yourself to be happy when the people you love are hurting and the world as you know it is spiralling out of control. At first, I felt like there was something wrong with me because I could still smile at times when sobbing in a corner felt more appropriate. (I did do that too at times). The transference of everyone else’s sadness and fear weighed heavily on me and made me question how I could possibly continue to feel happy when no one else could see any light in our situation. I had to realise that those outside looking in, couldn’t see everything we saw, they didn’t get to experience the beautiful moments in our situation like I did.
Like this one…
And this one… (Taken on the hospital lawns while waiting for our little man to emerge from experimental brain surgery).
I had to accept that the only life I was going to live was this one. And that I had the choice of how I wanted to live that life. But first, I had to give myself permission to experience happiness. And permission to hope. And once I had done this, I realised that this life, while not what I ever expected, could still be full of beautiful, happy moments. I came to understand that in bad situations, there is good, just as in good situations there is bad. You can’t just live with one feeling there isn’t just sadness or happiness or fear or anger, they can all coexist.
So is it ok to feel happy in times of suffering? Yes, I believe not only is ok, it’s necessary. For ourselves and our children.
Adele is the founder of ReachAble – a page made by a mother of a child with special needs and complex medical needs for mothers. It’s a place of positivity and place to discover strategies to feed our minds souls and bodies. It’s a place full of ideas that helped her be strong for herself and her family. (Strong Me. Strong We) It’s a space that values the importance of putting on our oxygen masks first so that we can be there for our challenging and rewarding lives.