Dealing with grief on Valentine’s Day
By Jenny Filush-Glaze
By now, unless you have been living under a rock, you have seen the commercials that depict “gifts of love” being purchased for loved ones without abandon.
You’ve scrolled through social media and read the articles about a man who continues to eat at his favorite restaurant, a picture of his deceased wife framed and sitting opposite of him — and it makes you both sad and happy at the same time. Why? Because we are talking about true love, a concept that reverberates around us at this time of year as we are inundated with candy hearts, overpriced flowers and costly reservations at the finest restaurants. It is a holiday that, interestingly enough, both warms and breaks hearts every single year.
Imagine that this is your first Valentine’s Day without the love of your life, or even the second, or third, etc. Anticipating this day and the rush of raw emotions that come with it can create overwhelming anxiety and despair. Not everyone is embracing the “holiday of love,” especially those who are grieving, especially when it is readily apparent that their loved one is no longer present and the fine chocolates once purchased for them remain absent. However, despite the commercialism and all the emotions, Valentine’s Day does serve a very important purpose. It is a reminder, though dreadfully tortuous at times, that love existed. It brings forward memories created and times spent sharing heartfelt feelings — feelings that because of their existence make grief so difficult to bear.
For many, pressing the “fast forward” button to make it through this day is a wish that never comes true, however, they find that even in the pain, some are able to gain comfort in remembering their love — from its glorious start to its excruciating finish. Old boxes of cherished belongings, cards, letters written, etc. are pulled out of hidden places and are perused once more in an effort to feel closer to them. Many have described engaging in these actions, and as you would expect, the results are twofold. Some feel a connection to their loved ones, their memories imprinted on their hearts forever, while others find that the memories are too painful to experience.
Healing takes on many forms, but I like to think that the foundation in our healing journey begins and ends with love. Knowing that we were loved and acknowledging that we had discovered someone we had chosen to spend our life with and then working together to build that life is the inspiration that helps see us through the most challenging aspects of grief and loss. It is because we had loved (and continue to do so) that the “holiday of love” becomes a symbol of all that we have lost. Keep in mind that it is normal to feel things such as resentment and anger as well as sadness. Watching others engage in the ability to share their love with one another is painful to witness, a reminder that hits hard at this time of year.
To love and to be loved is a gift that is given unconditionally and can be so unexpected that it changes your life forever. True love lasts a lifetime, and it is the most powerful force in the world. Continue to hold onto that “forever love” and know that because you have loved so deeply, it will give you the strength and courage you need to find yourself once again.