He’d Want You To Be Happy

by | Aug 3, 2011 | 7 comments

I remember in the beginning posting on the widow board, trying to encourage some of the other miserable sounding widows further down the line than I was, “they would want us to be happy.”  I was still in shock then.

Now, people still use that line on me sometimes.  But although I know my husband loved me and would never want me to feel this kind of pain and sorrow, he also never experienced a tragedy like I now have.  Therefore, I think it’s naive to pretend I know how he would feel or what he would tell me to do.  I do know that he would feel tremendous sorrow if he knew the devastation introduced to our lives.  I imagine he would be crying, like I do nightly- his faith and worldview, shaken to the core, as is mine.  I do not see him telling me to “be happy.”  Of course all of this is the Dan I knew here on earth, and if there is an afterlife that he now has knowledge of, I can’t really know what that Dan would say because he would be a Dan I have not known.  He would have knowledge and completeness I do not.

“Be happy.”  Those are not the two words I hear him telling me anymore.  If happiness was the meaning of life, I’d be in big trouble.  And so would a lot of other people.  But to acknowledge that in a world of suffering, the meaning must somehow be built into the suffering – not away from it- helps.

So, what I have decided on, what I can hear him saying to me, for some reason- in both Korean and English- are two very different words:

Jal ji neh.

Live well.


August 3, 2011


  1. Jane Jasmine

    love this post. even as my heart breaks for you, it rejoices in this truth. bless you, julia.

  2. HB

    Beautiful post which resonates with me, though I am not so far along the road as you. Helen

  3. Gwyneth

    Julia – You are so gifted at capturing what so many of us feel. My husband died after a two year battle with cancer, and although I was rarely if ever willing to talk about his impending death, whenever I would say, "I can't do this without you!", he would respond, "you will be okay." He didn't say happy, he said okay. And now, 18 months out, I see he had a wisdom that I didn't appreciate then. Because you are right, as much as we want happiness to be the goal, it really can't be in this broken world of ours. And while, like you, I'm not sure where I think Rob is now, and I'm not one to feel "messages" from him, I do clearly remember a day not long after he died when I was out running on a beautiful spring day, and I "heard" him say: "LIVE"

    Thank you for your writing. I am so sorry for your pain, but I am glad to not be alone.

  4. christy vinson

    Live well…

    You are right.

  5. Jo Julia

    sophie- i'm really sorry for your loss and experience. i'm so curious to see the painting you did of the experience. i often think about how it was for my husband since i was so far away.

  6. onewomansperspective02

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Although I have not lost a spouse, our son and his best friend were killed by a drunk driver. In grief, sometimes there are no words…you just have to care. May God's peace and love surround you.


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