Living through the seasons of grief.
~ The love and hugs holiday ~ Valentines.
Are you wondering what to do with your heart ache and loneliness as this annual day of love and connection looms in the near future? Is there a better way to walk through this passage of grieving than if we didn’t give it any thought or preparation? I think so and this is why I am writing to you today.
Let’s think about love and grieving for a few minutes. Hilary Stanton Zunin once wrote,
“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief—
But the pain of grief is only a shadow when
compared with the pain of never risking love.”
So in a peculiar way, our aching, longing heart is all about love ~ either the love we could never receive or the love we so terribly miss. If we grieve the love we never received, then this might be a good time to acknowledge, forgive, and release our heart form the past that cannot be changed. Or, is it possible that this cultural celebration could be the catalyst to help us affirm our love for the one who died? Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet might capture our experience
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
So with a bit of confidence, we can count the ways we love someone who has died. We can remember the things about that person that drew our heart towards them with love. This would be a good season to remember what that love was based on and how it worked in your relationship. There is no perfect love, no perfect relationship, but you can acknowledge what was good between the two of you. These actions would be good healthy grief work instead of planning no activity, and then being overcome with emotions which feeds a feeling of loss of control.
You might also find that making a list of others who are living and continue to love you would be a helpful way to turn a pity party Valentine’s Day into a day of gratitude. Think about the ones who are filling your love cup in many ways that you might not have even noticed. Take some thought-filled time to remember those who have reached out to you, family members who care, co-workers who are interested in your pain and your healing, or maybe the child who waved and smiled at you the other day. This list need not be long. For it takes just one or two people who are loving us to make a difference.
And as I have a tendency to save the best for the last, let’s think about being loved by The One who knows us best. Let’s contemplate being the delight, joy and apple of God’s affection and care. Let us allow ourselves to be loved by this kind of eternal, gracious, strong, gentle, patient, wise, and never-giving up love. I have found that the ancient Scriptures have some beautiful Valentine messages from God. Here are just a few of them to comfort you as you live through this season of grieving.
“I have loved you with and everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. . . .
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow” Jer. 31:3 & 13 NIV
“But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. Ps. 13:5,6 NIV
“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, . . .
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! . . .
Continue your love to those who know you, . . . Ps. 36 5, 7 & 10 NIV
“The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17 NKJV
© Karen Nicola Feb. 2016