Photo courtesy of ©photodune.net
My last post was about Mr. Guilt. My plan was to continue that theme and talk about how to recognize and deal with him.
But Valentine’s Day is staring us in the face – and it can be hard. So I’m going to put Mr. Guilt off until the next post, and discuss this upcoming celebration of love and romance.
Why Valentine’s Day can be difficult
Valentine’s Day can be hard for all kinds of reasons – death, divorce, abuse, estrangement, and loneliness, to name a few. It resurrects our losses and thrusts them in our faces. We long for what we had, or grieve what we never got. We’re angry about how things are. Add some guilt into the mix and presto – a formidable recipe for discouragement, depression, and despair.
Valentine’s Day can be an intense time of grief and sadness.
What can we do?
Hiding isn’t a good option
We can, of course, hide. This is perhaps our most natural reflex when wounded and feeling out of control. But it’s not healthy, and we know it.
We can run. Run into another’s arms. Run to someone or something else to deaden the pain. But then, this is just another form of hiding.
We can make the courageous choice to meet Valentine’s Day head on, and use it to help us heal.
Meeting Valentine’s Day head-on
How do we do this?
- First, we can decide to meet the day and what it brings. The Grinch couldn’t stop Christmas from coming, and we won’t be able to stop Valentine’s Day either. What would it mean to celebrate the day in a way that fits where we are?
- Second, we can make proactive choices. Each of us gets to decide what we’re going to do, how, when, and with whom. We must seek those who are helpful to our healing and limit our exposure to those who aren’t. We can take charge of the day, and make a plan.
- Third, we can forgive. We can’t afford to let guilt (blaming ourselves) or bitterness (blaming others) rule our hearts. We can choose to both forgive those who have wounded us and forgive ourselves for what we did or didn’t do. This releases our hearts to continue to heal.
- Fourth, we can express love. We can choose to honor those who have passed – buy them a card, write a letter, or give a gift in their name. We remember them, and are thankful. But we don’t have to stop there.
Even when in pain, we can reach out and honor someone around us we respect and admire. How can we show them our love and thanks? What can we do to help them feel appreciated and valued? A little genuine service can do wonders for broken hearts.
Maybe it’s about love in the midst of difficulty
Perhaps this is what Valentine’s Day should be about anyway – expressing love in the midst of pain and struggle. If we freely passed along what we longed to receive, imagine the impact we might make.
We grieve because we dared to love. What if we used our grief to love even more?
Valentine’s Day might be different indeed.
Question: When Valentine’s Day hurts, what have you found helpful?