Sadness, Loneliness, and Depression? Get Your Happy Back


What do you feel at the end of the day? Sadness, loneliness, and depression? How can you kick those feelings to the curb and get your happy back? By studying your grandkids–closely.

how to maximize joy by embracing grief

How many grandkids do you have in the 5-12 age range? What problems do they face? They’re starting school and ending grade school. That means they have academics to fight with for the first time in their lives and a steady climb to the plateau of middle school. If they don’t understand the basic concepts of math, grammar, and science and read well, they’re in for big trouble.

They’re also finding their way through the social arena of friends outside of the family. This can be a frightening process. And their responses to conflict can bring anything from crocodile tears to punching someone in the nose. Life is tough and they’re finding that out.

What does this have to do with the way you feel? You know where they’ve been. Can you remember your own struggles at their ages? Who bullied you and who blessed? 

When you look at the lives of your young grandkids, you can probably see the good all around them. They got a new bike just last week. They didn’t get an A on the spelling test this time but they did the last.

And they enjoyed a trip to the zoo and had a sleepover at your house in which they received the royal treatment. So, why are they so gloomy today? Because we all forget the good–too often. And fall into sadness, loneliness, and depression. No matter our age.

The turbulent teen years: An opportunity for pain

how to maximize joy by embracing grief

What are your teens grands going through right now? Did they just lose a job or can’t find one? Are they in danger of not graduating or did someone ram into their first car? 

You’ve seen some of the same struggles. You know the ups and downs of friendships, the breakups of sweethearts and feeling like the misfit when you walked into a difficult class at school.

And you remember the driver’s test you had to take and feeling the pain of paying for your own auto insurance. And wanting to go to college and wondering how.

Look how far you’ve come. You made it. Don’t you want to grab your teenage grandson or daughter and tell them it will be okay? Grandma and grandpa are living proof that things will get better.

Adult relationships: Love and hate

how to maximize joy by embracing grief

How frightening it is to watch your adult grandchildren face disappointment and betrayal. If you have great grandchildren involved, the pain intensifies. But some of us have known the same devastation. We’ve lived the sadness, loneliness, and depression of failed relationships.

And we pray for our older grands with the same depth of desire as our little ones. And really, they’re all little ones to us. 

The road they travel is long and arduous. How well we know. But we also see the good that comes their way. And we’re thankful.

If we could remind them that not all is lost, would we? Would we point out the good job they have? The willing babysitters? The support of family and their vibrant health?

Midlife questioning: Has it all been worth it?

how to maximize joy by embracing grief

It’s easier to look at our grands and see the rainbows they’re missing. But when the spotlight turns to our own dilemmas, it can pierce us like a knife.

Did you go through a midlife crisis? Or maybe are in the middle of it now? What is the crisis? 

They say we can hit the age of questioning our worth, our purpose and our destiny anywhere from age 35-55. We laugh when we see some of our young adult grands go through this. There is so much for them to live for. They’re just babies! Mere youngsters on this journey of life.

We tell them, “This too shall pass.” And sunny days will part the clouds once more. But do we believe it for ourselves? Or do we hang onto our sadness, loneliness, and depression?

When I was 55, I met a woman who was 78. She called me a “babe in arms.” I can’t imagine anyone taking me up like a young child but I got her point. She said to stop procrastinating and get planning–because a beautiful future was still mine to have.

Coming of age: The less welcome way

how to maximize joy by embracing grief

I recall when my grandmother was wheel-chair bound. She was more aggravated than anything. She wanted to go, go, go and the chair said to sit!

I tried to cheer her but I was always running out the door with my car keys. I felt guilty.

One day, she took my hand and apologized for being so cross. For the next hour, she told me stories of her younger years. And how she had stolen away in the night to see her boyfriend, but I was such a good girl. And I wondered if she knew I’d do the same if I could get away with it.

But, we laughed together and she said, “How can I complain with such a granddaughter as you?” Oh no! She must have known how much I was like her!

I can’t say that I heard her complain much after that. But I did hear her singing, praying and banging on the pump organ. 

Friendships that last: Continuing forward

how to maximize joy by embracing grief

I’ve often wondered who would be by my side when I reach my grandmother’s age. The age when she needed assistance. I have eleven children. Which one or ones will be there to cheer me and I them?

Which friends will talk me out of sorrow and make me smile again?

I suspect it will be the same ones that I pull from the mucky-mucks and invite over to, “Oh me!” and “Oh my!” About the neighbors, the nightly news and this American society–good or bad. And maybe we’ll commiserate about sadness, loneliness, and depression.

And when I’m alone, I want to remember to laugh about the same things I chuckled over when we were together. I’ve already started that practice. I purposely think of a line of humor I’ve previously shared with a loved one and lose myself in the moment–all over again.

What’s wrong with laughing when no one else is around? Why nothing at all.

Family that binds: Remembering the best

how to maximize joy by embracing grief

When I consider the trials and tribulations my family has survived, I must be eternally grateful. Aren’t you? Think of the harrowing events you’ve seen, the heartaches you’ve endured and the times you thought you couldn’t go on.

I remember a time when I said to my aging father, “I can’t take one more day of this!” So, he asked, “How are you going to get out of it?”

I ask the same to you. Is there a satisfactory way to avoid all sadness, loneliness, and depression? I see none, but this I do know–I’ve been broke before, sick before, sad before and wondering what to do next–before.

And here I am. And here you are. We’ve made it and will continue to do so.

The promise within our grandkids: Full circle from our own childhoodshow to maximize joy by embracing grief

Our grands, from youngest to oldest are a living history of ourselves. We can laugh, cry and get angry with them and at them. Yet, we know at the end of their day things will work out. Sorrows will fade and new opportunities for joy and happiness will present themselves.

So, do we minimize their struggles? Not at all.

Neither do we minimize our own. We feel through them and get through them to the other side. This evening, if you feel the sadness, loneliness, and depression monsters come your way, remember what you tell your grandkids. 

“There is nothing under your bed or in your closet. And as soon as I turn on the light, you will see for yourself.”

Turn on the light. Remember the good. Smile about the beautiful things you’ve experienced and the wonderful people you know. Play some cheerful music and sing like a rockstar.

Because life is good–somewhere. Perhaps not in every aspect but good enough when we stop to consider. And give thanks.