Joy Bursts

In the ‘grief world’ there’s this thing called ‘grief bursts’ which happen when some of the extremely sad feelings we’ve already experienced come at us again several months after Mikail’s death. Grief bursts can also happen after a year or more. Sometimes something acts as a trigger and catches us by surprise: a song, a little boy at the grocery store, a place, a character in a movie or even just simply the smell of a season changing. During these grief bursts it is as if we’re confronted with Mikail’s death for the first time, all over again.  As time goes by, these grief bursts become less and less, although they are just as shocking and sad as though Mikail just past away hours ago instead of a year ago.

We are very aware of these grief bursts, but lately we’ve been noticing something happening more and more: “joy bursts”. Not sure if that’s really a term, but I am making it up. Most of our days have simply been driven by sheer ‘we can make it’ survival mentality with ‘grief bursts’ and ‘joy bursts’ peppered throughout.

Recently J and I looked at each other, after an honest to goodness belly laugh, that these ‘joy bursts’ are happening more often and we are very aware that there’s a little girl that’s behind a lot of these ‘joy bursts’:

Here are just a few ‘joy bursts’ that come to mind:

“Olivia, do you want to sit on Santa’s knee and tell him what you’d like for Christmas?”
“His beard is really big and long. Will I get tangled in it?”


Then, a few days later when she opened her keyboard from Santa, she exclaimed, “Santa remembered, even though I didn’t sit on his lap and tell him I wanted a piano. He remembered! Phew! He didn’t lose his mind!”


Recently I asked Olivia to go to her room to put on her pjs. It didn’t take long and she was back wearing only her shirt yelling “I peed an ‘i’ on the floor! I peed an ‘i’ on the floor!”. J and I looked at each other in confusion and told her to go to the bathroom to pee. I ran to the bedroom and sure enough, there on the floor was a line with a dot on top: “i” in pee. Seriously! She’s 31/2 and has been potty trained since 21 months of age. Why would you pee an “i” on the floor? After getting the ipad to take a picture and taking a few moments to compose ourselves we found that she tinkled a little by accident and it made an “i” on the floor. Wow! The teacher in me thought “oh good, let’s check ‘i’ off the list for letter recognition”. You can’t make these stories up.


Olivia and Nana were playing in the toy room and Nana had set a ten minute limit so she could enjoy some adult visiting too. When the ten minutes were up, Olivia sadly came to the living room and in all seriousness asked “Mommy, can we buy a slower clock?”


And then there are also those moments of joy just between Jason and myself. They are becoming more frequent as well. Grief is a very personal, lonely journey–even if you are surrounded by others who are grieving–everyone grieves differently. The joy bursts are coming back and we are able to enjoy them together. Grief bursts usually happen on an individual basis with individual, very different triggers, so it can be a lonely experience. We are finding that these joy bursts are something we share together. Enjoyment in the little things like a crazy hard 1000 piece puzzle we work on in the evenings. Or a game of Mexican Train. Or a kiss that lasts longer than the quick ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ peck. Or those moments where we laugh so hard that I beg him to stop because I’m sure I’ll pee my pants. Joy bursts. Grief is still raw and fresh, but we are seeing more and more of these joy bursts. What a blessing.

Weeping may last for the night,
but joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

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