Romance is in the air. For some it will be a day of hearts, flowers, and the clink of glasses as love is joyfully toasted. A special day to celebrate loved ones and loving relationships.
For those who have lost a love, Valentine’s Day is yet one more reminder of the cards not sent, the flowers not received, and the hugs and kisses that won’t be shared. Your loneliness deepens, your spirit is in shadow, your heart feels broken, and envy rears its ugly head as all you see around you are happy couples.
I know. I am an orphan, a widow, and I lost my best friend of forty-two years to cancer. Well crap!
Just when I think I am getting the hang of this whole grief and loss thing, another reminder of what I don’t have comes along.
Don’t get me wrong. I walk in the light and I am so grateful for the life that I have. On the other hand, when I am in the pit of loneliness and sadness, I need to acknowledge and accept that I am in the depths, and honor the darkness as well. I know that this journey has much to teach me; hard won wisdom for sure. But seriously…“Are we there yet?” This journey also has much about it that sucks!
Three very important people who loved me are gone. There are times when I feel inconsolable and yet I am by nature a cheery person and I do have hope. I certainly don’t have all the answers to grief and loss, but I do have hope that life can be better; that I can rise above the losses, honor the losses, and re-build a life worth having. And I believe that you can too!
“If you are going through HELL, keep going!”~ attributed to Winston Churchill ~
The first hope is that if you just get up and keep going you will end up somewhere else. Use journaling and meditation to access your inner wisdom; hire a therapist or a life coach, connect with others; do something creative; move your body. Keep going! Do one small thing a day to create positive change.
Clean out a closet, clear your in-box, pay that bill, lean into the tasks that you have been avoiding. You will feel better! I do this and it helps.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr ~
The second hope is that you cultivate the spirit of acceptance. You most certainly don’t have to like your situation, but you can lean into acceptance. It will allow you the possibility to make changes where you can.
If you could change one small aspect of your situation what would it be? Small, substantive changes, lead
to transformative opportunities. I do this and it helps.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~ Albert Einstein ~
The third hope is that we can be mindful of our thoughts. A single negative thought will serve to send you down the emotional rabbit hole that is so hard to climb out of. You can get lost down there if your aren’t careful and the tunnels lead to bitterness, anger, resentment, self-loathing, and despair. Our thoughts have power. Think brighter thoughts for a brighter day. Even if you don’t believe the new thoughts, when you think them long enough they will become a part of the new you. I do this and it helps.
Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at.” ~ Pema Chodron ~
The fourth hope (and I think this is a necessity), is that we cultivate compassion for ourselves and our journey. Imagine that you are your best friend telling you about her losses and how difficult her life has been. Would you criticize her, berate and shame her, tell her that when the going gets tough the tough get going, demand that she get off the pity-pot? Worse yet, would you tell her that she has been grieving for far too long and to get over it? That would be the end of the friendship and she would never trust you or feel safe with you again. Why oh why do this to yourself? It is not helpful! Self compassion is what is needed for healing. I do this and it helps.
“The world breaks everyone, and then some become strong in the broken places”. ~ Ernest Hemingway ~
The fifth hope is aptly conveyed in the philosophy behind the 500 year old Japanese art of Kintsugi. Instead of discarding broken pottery, those who practice Kintsugi repair the objects by filling the cracks with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum powder. The results are more beautiful than the originals and stronger in the broken places. Such is life and the nature of our wounded places. We can repair our wounds with precious moments and precious relationships. We can consciously choose that what strengthens us and adds to our beauty. What will you choose to mend your broken spirit? If nothing else, I choose hope, and it helps.
My journey through grief and loss is far from over. There are many days when I feel afraid, lonely, and overwhelmed. And yet I continue to put one foot in front of the other, knowing that if I skip a step I could stumble. I wish that I could say that “I am there yet”, but I am cannot and if I reach my final destination it might be way too final for my liking.
I do know this road and I do know how to navigate it. I don’t know what your journey looks like, but you can always stop by and ask for directions. Please call me for a no-charge, 15 minute consultation. Stop by to refresh and rejuvenate yourself for whatever lies ahead. Oh and…Happy Valentine’s Day! Send yourself a Valentine. You are worth it!