Welcome back! It is now February and with that comes thoughts about the month’s most recognized holiday of love: Valentine’s Day. This day has been said to originate from Western Christianity and in Roman traditions and rituals from the 5th century. It is a day of the year that is meant to represent love, relationships and affection but it can sometimes be the opposite experience for those experiencing grief. Valentine’s Day is just one of the many significant events that can potentially bring about distress in your grief, especially during the first year of loss.
Valentine’s Day isn’t always welcomed by the bereaved; it has the potential to create a great deal of angst as it can be a reminder that our loved one or pet’s physical presence is no longer with us. This day can serve as a way to metaphorically rip off the band-aid that was protecting a wounded heart, or it can be a highly challenging time for those not yet ready to face that hurdle.
For those struggling with anxiety surrounding this upcoming date, I can offer you some ways to meet your grief with care, kindness and compassion. By reshaping your mental image of Valentine’s Day, it can represent not only appreciating your loved one but also caring and giving love and kindness to your own self. This can involve trying therapeutic activities such as:
- Writing Valentine’s notes to your loved one that you can either keep in a special memory box or that you can choose to let go of or release in a ritual of your choice.
- Taking an imaginary walk in nature with your loved one beside you. This is a great way to engage all your senses as you’re walking, making it feel as if they are near you.
- Making a collage of pictures of you and your loved one or the things that remind you of them. This can bring forth warmth and sentimental memories, which can be comforting.
- Tara Brach’s RAIN meditation can help you be present in your grief and can also help to access the loving, nurturing part within ourselves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8e_tAEM80k or: tarabrach.com
- Trying a heart-centered meditation that can be accessed on YouTube: Click Here To Listen to Valentine’s Day Grief >> (Facilitated by Heather Stang, a fellow Grief Specialist and Thanatologist)
- I also invite you to partake in a journal activity by writing a list of ways you show yourself love. This can include experiences where you shared love with your deceased loved one, activities that you both enjoyed together and ways that you can continue to express your love in their memory.
- As always, by making sure you rest your mind and body throughout the day!
No matter which way you choose to face this day, it is important to remember that just like any other day, that it begins, and it ends. You will get through this, just as you’ve gotten through all the other difficult and challenging days since your loved one’s death or departure. Having a Plan A and Plan B to get through these challenging times is important but even if you end up having an upsetting day where nothing goes to plan, you can take solace in the fact that it will soon be over and that tomorrow is a new day.
Always remember that you are in charge for what feels right for you and these are just ideas that you may or may not find helpful or fit for you. If these activities are too uncomfortable and you find it hard to sit for a long period of time, I recommend breaking them down into small amounts of time- a minute here or a few minutes there goes a long way. No matter what, always remember to attend to and honor your mind and body in the present moment throughout the experience.
Elizabeth (Liz) Hides MSW, RSW, CT, CMMT is owner of Healthy Directions a private practice in Calgary, Alberta that focuses on grief, loss, and life transitions. She is a Registered Social Worker, Certified Thanatologist and Certified Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher. Liz’s expertise is helping Albertan’s navigate traumatic losses such as suicide, homicide, and sudden deaths. She encourages exploration of resilience and personal growth after a loss through a blend of traditional talk therapy and non-traditional methods to ease grief experiences. You can contact Liz through her website – www.healthy-directions.ca
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