We've probably all had one or several happy Valentine's Days in the past. For those of you who have lost a child or parent, a partner or friend, here are some way to deal with those losses, even as others are celebrating Valentine's Day.
1) Give yourself a lot of leeway. If you need a few weeks more for grieving than others think you should require, thank them for their concern and assure them that you are doing what you choose to do. If you find you are listless and unable or unwilling to focus on what you want to accomplish, take ten minutes right then and there to list at least five things about yourself that you really value and feel proud of. Try an afformation (in the form of a question) such as "How did it get so easy and natural for me to make peace with my situation?" (Questions prompt the brain to come up with an answer).
2) When you hear of others' excitement over Valentine's Day, recall three or four times when you shared loving words with someone special in your life. Bask in the good feelings you remember about those moments, and remind yourself gently that you will feel those loving feelings again. If you need some reassurance on that, lead yourself gently back to those interactions until you connect with the loving person you are. If it takes six times a day, do it. Remind yourself, even for five seconds, that you are worthy of love, from yourself and from others.
3) Call as many people as you like and ask them to listen to you for five minutes. (You would do the same for them!) Then spill out your sadness, hurt, pain, regrets that are weighing on you right now. You needn't rein in your feelings. Your heaviness is just as real as their lightness is. If you want to hear their response, ask for it. Otherwise, request that they just listen. At any time, you can change your mind and ask for their response. This is your time to get your needs met.
4) If you're holding in your sadness, find some physical way to express yourself. Pound on pillows, or go to a yoga or tai chi or aerobics class. It could be a good time for brisk walks or for cleaning out the basement (IF you stay on task). Find activities that take a lot of energy: composting leaves, gathering wood for the fireplace, picking up litter, etc. I'm often amazed when my heaviness is lifted just by the act of putting my whole self into an activity, including making brownies.
5) When a dear friend Charles died a couple years ago, I went to the Adult Family Home he was living at when they called and said he had died. I sat by his body for a couple hours, and wrote memories of all we'd experienced together over the years. Sharing memories that night with others who loved him, I felt complete. I was surprised I didn't feel grief in the months after that. His death was expected, which was easier that if there had been no warning. I still think of him, but it's closer to how I feel when a friend moves away--wistfulness and sadness and longing, while knowing they're still in your life. I still talk to Charles at times, and imagine that I feel his presence. I may even answer questions I pose to him as though they came from him. Trust your sense of which of your actions give you comfort and peace.
6) Some Valentine's Day sadness may bring up regrets for the things you wish you had (or hadn't) said and done. We all have had encounters we wish had never happened. I find that when I choose to either do something about a situation or let it go, I can move forward. If you need someone's "permission," you have it from me: "Do something about it, or let it go!"
A quote that serves us all is Pema Chodron's “It isn’t what happens to us that causes us to suffer; it’s what we say to ourselves about what happens.” So you can tell yourself you can't bear what happened, or you can say "I know there's something of value for me in what happened. I'm going to be patient with myself, and I know, in time, I will accept all this as part of the plan for my life." From acceptance comes peace. And nothing I can think of is more important to any of us than inner peace.
If you would like some support in feeling good about your life, dial 206-938-8385, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary coaching call about any area you'd like to feel good about. I'd love to hear your comments on this blog.