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  • Writer's pictureEllen Krohne

Happy Sorrow?

Robin Roberts is one of my favorite news anchors. She not only wears yellow a lot of the time, (and so do I) she also has an optimistic view most of the time. Not that she’s not a serious journalist, she is. And, she has the ability to find the good in a person she is interviewing or the story she is telling, not just be the bearer of what seems to constantly be bad news.

I was reading the AARP monthly magazine this week. (Yes, I am of that age that I enjoy the articles in this publication – they are pertinent to me. No judgement, please. Ha!) On page 34 was an article about Robin Roberts. The article was about her cancer diagnosis ten years ago. But what caught my eye, and I’ve been thinking about since, was a part of the article about how her mother dealt with sorrow. Here it is:

“Boy, I get chills just thinking about it. When my father passed in 2004, we were devastated. He was the patriarch. I remember gathering outside the church for his homegoing with a big circle of family and friends. We were all very sorrowful. But my mother said, “No, no, no! This is a celebration of your father. Yes, we are heartbroken, but you can have happy sorrow. You’re going to be sad anyway. Why not remember the good?”

Photo from AARP article

Happy sorrow. That’s a concept I’ve not come across in any of my writing about grief. I like the sound of it. To make a choice to be happy in the face of sorrow.

Not that being happy will take away the sorrow, nor would we want it to, right? Sorrow is part of what makes us whole and provides balance to our lives. I like to think that the sorrow of losing my mother early in life helped me to understand how precious life is, to be sure I lived each day fully, as happy as I could be.

Finding happiness in the face of grief, in the face of loss, is not an easy ask. I remember the dark days after my mother’s death. There was no laughter or sounds of joy in our little farmhouse. The first time I laughed after she died, I scolded myself, “Oh, no, I can’t do that.” In reflection, she would want us to remember her, celebrate her life, to find happiness. Happy sorrow.

This week Robin Roberts announced her new book, “Brighter by the Day.” I am excited to read her life’s journey and path towards optimism. Here’s a little bit about Robin’s view of happy sorrow:

“You’ve got to say, “Okay, I recognize you. What is it that you’re trying to bring into my life? What am I supposed to learn from you being here with me as much as joy being here with me?”

So, dear reader, if you are grieving or love someone who is, may you be like Robin Roberts, and find a little happy sorrow.

Heartlinks Grief Center provides grief support to all ages, regardless of ability to pay. If you are grieving or know someone who could use assistance on their grief journey, please contact Heartlinks Grief Center at 618-277-1800 or email

Proceeds from the sale of my books are donated to help support Heartlinks Grief Center, a program of Family Hospice of Belleville, IL.

Be blessed,


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