Have you ever cried at a wedding? Did you get a little misty-eyed at your child’s first birthday party, or while watching your teenager drive off to college on their own for the first time?
These are all happy occasions, and you might argue that the tears falling are “happy tears.”
However, it’s not uncommon to feel a tinge of sadness sometimes, even during the happiest of occasions. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, it’s important to understand why, so you don’t try to hide your emotions.
Why do happy occasions sometimes stir up feelings of sadness?
The Past Is Irretrievable
Things like watching your child grow up, wishing a loved one who has passed on could be at a special event, or even selling your home can cause you to feel a little sad. You can’t go back and change the past. You can’t collect things from it to bring with you in the future.
So, when a happy event is occurring, it’s normal to start thinking about the past and how it brought you to this place. No matter how excited you are to be experiencing the present, it can sometimes be bittersweet when you think about where you came from and everything you’ve been through to get to this point.
You Can Be Too Hard on Yourself
Have you ever felt a little sad while celebrating the accomplishments of someone else?
Maybe a co-worker got a promotion. Maybe a close friend is getting married or having a baby. You might even scroll through Facebook and see pictures of everyone’s special events, and feel a little down even though you hit the “like” button.
Feeling sad while congratulating others on their accomplishments doesn’t make you selfish or jealous. Instead, these things might cause you to doubt yourself. You might even feel “cheated,” knowing you haven’t gotten to experience the things others have.
Those feelings don’t mean you aren’t happy for others. However, if you’re already struggling with self-compassion, those kinds of celebrations can make things worse.
Time Is Fleeting
Some of the happiest occasions in life are also milestones. Things like graduations, weddings, birthday parties, and retirement parties are all reasons to celebrate. They are some of the biggest moments you can go through in life. Whether others are celebrating your milestones or you’re there for someone else’s special occasion, there can sometimes be a tinge of sadness that comes with such things.
That’s because these milestones serve as little reminders that time is fleeting. Everyone is getting older, and things change with time. You can’t control it. You can’t stop it. Most importantly, you can’t go backward or try to capture things you wish you could have held onto.
Understanding that time is fleeting can make you more aware of your own mortality. Or, it might make you concerned about the mortality of others, like aging parents or friends. While it usually doesn’t take away from the celebration, it can cause sadness—especially when you have time to think about it after the occasion.
It’s okay to feel sad sometimes, even on the happiest of occasions. It’s part of your humanity. What’s important is that you don’t dwell on that sadness. Life moves forward and things change. Sometimes, that’s easier to handle than others. Do what you can to stay focused on the celebratory moments, but understand that it’s okay for them to feel a little bittersweet.
If you can’t seem to let go of that sadness, there might be something deeper causing your emotions to feel so heavy. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you would like to learn more about depression therapy.