Just about the time many who are grieving put the holidays behind us, another one, a tough one for many, comes along. It is, of course, Valentine's Day. While those around us make plans to celebrate the day, we who have lost a lover, partner, or spouse feels bombarded with ads for romantic dinners, films, trips, greeting cards and more. The world starts to feel dominated by couples deeply in love (true or not) when we are without that one person whose death changed our lives forever.
At five years out from that horrendous day when death stole my beloved husband Bill, I find that I handle these days better than in the first two or three years. I am learning to live around the hole and yes, with the hole created by his absence and when the pain that is always there wells up, I allow it and feel it but am able to "bounce" back more easily. The sadness is always there sitting in the back of my heart most days and on some days it brings me to tears and feelings of emptiness. There is not a day that goes by that I do not experience sadness and longing for his presence but grief has increasingly less control over my life and emotions.  So, like most of you who are reading this and who have experienced the loss of someone you love recently (recent is defined by each person) I will be glad to see the red hearts, balloons, cards, and ads along with conversations about Valentine's Day plans, chocolate, and surprises....just disappear. I am happy for all of those who have wonderful moments on and around February 14 but I don't need to hear all of the details.
So how will I spend this Valentine's Day? That has varied each year since Bill died. This year I have decided to spend some of the day looking at photos and writing a love letter that focuses on my feelings (sad and joyful) and on precious moments in our lives. I do this fairly regularly but this year I imagine the letter will be rather lengthy as I anticipate the 5th anniversary of his death on March 27, something that is leading me to think back over our lives and over these five years. I also plan to write a response to my letter as if I am him.
As a therapist for many years, I have often suggested to clients that they write a letter to the loved one who died. It can be a healing tool. It can help us get in touch with our feelings. Writing a response as if from that person can also be healing and insightful because very often we know what they would say to us. One must know oneself and where you are at on your journey to know if this exercise is for you or not.

This year I will also send "love notes" to some friends; and do something kind for someone who is alone and have lunch with a friend who cares and listens and who does not try to take away my feelings or judge them. We do that for each other.

Most important when days come along that have the potential to be difficult, I create a plan.

What does Valentine's Day mean to you?
How will you spend this day?
What does it bring up for you?
 


Comments

02/09/2015 12:49pm

Oh Mary! How perfect and thank you for opening your heart. I bought three packs of Valentine cards and the lovely heart stamps so I can write notes and send them to friends and family who have helped me to make it through these three years. (It feels more like a week or a hundred years, actually.) I had planned to write a letter to Doug on the 7th, but did not have the emotional energy, and I like your idea of writing a letter to and from our Beloved. Thank you for that beautiful idea.

Thank you for your generous sharing, your aware heart, and the blessing of your presence.

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Mary Friedel-Hunt
02/09/2015 4:35pm

Thank you so much, iloilo. What a wonderful idea to send cards to those who helped you survive...I do know how it feels like yesterday and like a century ago. It does for me also. It does take so much emotional energy to do some of these things. Yes, writing back from Bill is always soothing...because no matter what I said....he was soft and kind and accepting and loving. Peace to your heart, Mary

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Kay Oxford
02/09/2015 6:06pm

Mary,
Thank you for addressing this. In the early years it was so hard to see the hearts and flowers, romantic dinners, Hallmark cards...and for me the day was worse than empty, it was a reminder of all I was missing.

Our church always has a Valentine banquet, so I bought a ticket for that...in past years they've had hearts and love songs...it was very painful to get through, esp. since George and I used to attend these together, but the last couple of years they have taken into consideration the many widows and singles in our church, and have made it other themed, less on romance and more on God's love for us, and they've done so with fun and humor. It helps. It also helps to not spend it alone...although this year the banquet is on the 13th instead of the 14th, it still helps.

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Mary Friedel-Hunt-Hunt
02/09/2015 8:16pm

Yes, Kay, I think Valentune's Day can be very difficult for people who grieve the loss of a beloved. It is, in many people's minds, a shallow day but when our partners are gone...that thought can change. Glad you are going to the church event. Thanks for come ting. Peace, Mary

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02/13/2015 8:21am

Thank you for this, Mary. I just shared it on my author page. Vic and I didn't make a big deal of Valentine's Day, but the commercial hype of it is still hard. I like your idea of writing a letter, but I think I'll take time to paint the majestic white bear that appeared in a recent dream. Paying attention to my inner worlds in this way will be a Valentine's gift for me.

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Mary Friedel-Hunt
02/13/2015 3:06pm

I love your idea, Elaine. I have just completed today a complete decluttering of every nook and cranny in the main part of the house i.e. not the garage or basement yet. Today I completed my art studio and now plan to get back to my art....maybe I will be able to paint one of my dreams...love the idea. I agree that paying attention to our inner worlds, which as you know I have been doing for quite some time now, is a Valentine's gift to ourselves....Peace, friend, Mary

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09/30/2015 8:04am

Holidays are very important for human life without the holidays the people cannot able to make their mind fresh. The people should know the importance of the holidays.

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11/23/2015 1:02pm

many many thanks. Thank you so much, iloilo. What a wonderful idea.

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03/10/2016 7:59am

wow its awesome to see this post.

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