Valentine’s Challenge

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By Bill Cushnie 

Special days like anniversaries, birthdays, and major holidays bring a mixed blessing to those who have lost a spouse or significant other. They are, of course, a reminder of the loss and the sadness attached, but also a time to relish sweet and happy memories.

For many Valentine’s Day returns thoughts to pre-children/family romance and couple bonding. That’s what makes it different than those “other” memory stirring days. And it is a reminder for some that there’s not that special romantic connection at present.

Since I’ve not personally suffered the loss of a spouse, I’ve had to consult with those who have to explore ways of coping. I do have a few ideas of my own to share, but they are rooted in working with those who have lost a spouse and not personal experience. Here are a few ideas for helping get through the Valentine’s Day challenge.

  • Go to the dark place for a while. I’m a believer that moving towards the pain is important for healing. Allow yourself to feel the sadness before moving on to some of the other things you might do. But do move on to other things.
  • If you are a “card keeper” take out those Valentine cards and read them. My mother did this when my dad died, and did so for another 20 years. It was a dark place to begin with, that she transformed into precious memories that she shared with me and my brother.
  • Spend some time with a best friend – lunch, or dinner perhaps. Swap funny stories about your early couple days. Laugh a little, cry a little.
  • Pamper yourself with the gift of a massage, manicure or pedicure. Treat yourself gently.
  • Talk with your children and let them in on the romantic side of your life before they were born. That’s something very few children know about their parents. It gives them another way to connect with you, as well as the person they lost. They may learn something important about commitment, too.
  • Gift yourself flowers. Orchids are not only beautiful flowers, but they last often for months. Give yourself one, or drop a hint to a family member or an older child if they need a “suggestion” for a gift.

Remember the rule, “If you want something, ask for it.” Friends and family are usually only too happy to respond. Learning to do that is a gift that keeps on giving. Not only do you receive what you want or need, but others have the opportunity to demonstrate their love and care. People are afraid of doing the wrong things when someone close to them has lost a loved one. You can help guide them by saying what you need.

Most importantly, take care of yourself. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel.