Does positive emotion help?
The answer is yes. Research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology shows us that positive emotion during a period of loss both lessens the intensity and the duration of negative feelings and depression.
Why would that be the case?
First of all, feelings of sadness aren’t necessarily negative unless they lead to a sense of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness.
Resilience is the issue here, and well-being in loss depends on a healthy awareness of sadness and loss –and the opportunity to express it.
Others tend to steer away from the topic of loss or the death of a loved one, just when someone needs to talk about feelings that are sad, lonely, and empty.
That sadness needs to be heard and shared.
Positive emotion helps because it forms a reservoir within us that can give meaning and a wider range of responses to grief.
Grieving, in the traditional sense, is not something that we have to do. It is also just as possible to celebrate the life of a person, to appreciate their being, and to know that the essence that is carried in the “space suit” of physical existence is for this life, but also binds us to what is more.
We also need to encourage, especially in ourselves when we go through loss, the positive emotions: love, peace, gratitude, hope, and joy.
They can still be a part of our lives, even if we have to make a deliberate intention to practice them.
Take extra time to appreciate, to feel and express gratitude, and make a special attempt to notice what is beautiful and good.
And, most important, remember in gratitude the best parts.
In the case of a material or professional loss, especially look for the benefits.
They are often hidden and slow to appear if we are morose and always angry.
© Dr. William K. Larkin