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An Uncommon Valentine’s Day

avatar-heartEveryday life after losing your spouse or sweetheart can be quite difficult. But handling holidays such as Valentine’s Day can be unnerving.

We start to see the advertisements on television for roses, jewelry and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate weeks before this day. Restaurants feature special dinners for two on that evening. And when you were paired with someone you love, chances are good these ads didn’t affect you.

But they do now.

The anticipation of a significant holiday or date such as the anniversary of your loved one’s death or their birthday can bring many emotions that we might not have expected. But please know that they are natural and normal.

Most of us feel such intensity around holidays because we are sad that we can no longer enjoy the closeness, experiences and love we once shared with our honey.

Some of us also are angry that they died before us. Others of us struggle with the unfairness to the point of cloistering ourselves in an effort to never be hurt again.

But there comes a time when we consciously accept that we are still alive and if we were supposed to go first, then we would have. And since this is the way things have turned out, why not live life to the fullest.

When that turn in thinking eventually arrives, it can gloriously begin a guilt-free new life whereby you take a long deep breath and with a loving kiss planted on their picture, you decide to consider new adventures.

It doesn’t mean you don’t miss them. It doesn’t mean you will not honor their memory for your children’s sake. It only means that you are now beginning a new and perhaps a somewhat scary life where the unknown awaits.

And that is a good thing.

So on Valentine’s Day, find the right thing that will make you happy. Is it the chocolate-covered pretzels, cherries or strawberries? Shall you get that massage you have been promising yourself because you miss your husband’s touch?

Will you finally accept your buddies’ invitation for a round of golf and lunch instead of sitting in front of the television alone?

Will you decide to give a little time to someone who is hurting like you and share a candlelit dinner together with a funny movie?

Or is it, perhaps, time to give that little soul at the animal rescue shelter a new life with you?

Even if you find yourself melancholy at times, no need to be embarrassed. Those who love you know this transition has not been easy for you.

So accept that kind pat on the back or hug, accept all the well wishes of those who love and care for you and remember that your sweetheart would want you to enjoy your life. Their love for you will never die.

When Valentine’s Day Isn’t The Same

Valentine’s Day symbolizes love and hope for the future. But sometimes, after we’ve lost someone special, it can be difficult to enjoy this day. And this is thoroughly understandable.

If you’re thinking of someone who is no longer with you today, try to remember the special Valentine’s Days you did get to share together. Try to remember the happier moments instead of dwelling on their absence.

Try to dig in and think of all the little things that you made special with them. The funny notes, the chocolates, maybe the gifts, the laughter.

Yes, today may not be like other Valentine’s Days you had in the past, yet you can try to do something special for yourself now. Could it be a lovely bubble bath, a round of golf, a special meal, a new pair of soft slippers, hot cocoa and a funny movie to move your mind toward hopefully things you wish to experience and create?

Being good to yourself when you’re hurting is key to moving forward. Don’t neglect your emotional needs and health.

And if you don’t hear it today from anyone else, let me say you are loved. You are loved by me and many others. I’m sure if you considered all the people you have helped in your life, there are many people who love you.

So do enjoy this day. Just because you feel the pain of loss does not mean you cannot also feel the joy of living.

We, the Patriots

Whenever I think of this holiday, the 4th of July, I prefer to think of the additional title it holds…Independence Day. I have many fond memories of this day in years past.

I also think of the movie “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson, as he encouraged his neighbors to fight together for their freedom. I don’t usually enjoy what was truly a violent movie, yet I found myself engaged in their pursuit of a new life free from oppression in this new land we call America.

Mel Gibson’s character experiences the death of a wife and son, his surviving children a mother and brother, his son loses a wife and her parents. And while their quest dually involved revenge and freedom, I found myself no longer focused on the blood and violence of the movie, but the compassion these broken people were able to give each other, throughout this tragic time in their lives. I couldn’t imagine living in such a continually unsafe environment. Yet millions all around this world do every day.

Regardless of whether you like the way our political parties are running this government, I find myself more focused on the fact that in the end, men and women in government come and go. This country stands forever.

It is the patriots of our fine country who fight for its freedom…not politicians. It is the patriots who rise up to defend her when she needs defending, whether at home or overseas. It is our patriots who risk life, limb, mental strength, and spirit to go around the world to defend and rise up oppressed peoples.

We may not receive the recognition we deserve…true. Not everyone thinks as we do…true. But I know of no other country who defeats its enemies, as in the case of Germany and Japan in World War II, and then returns to help them rebuild their land instead of possessing it.

Only the honorable people of a great nation do that. Willingly.

So on this Independence Day, I focus on all the good our nation has done for the peoples of the world. All the good its done for our own people, our own Patriots. And I know, absolutely know, that no matter what the politicians in this land do to enrich or harm it, America will always stand. For its Patriots will expect no less.

Memories at Holidays

As I work through my “to do” list this Christmas season, I find myself thinking about all the people who have left my life. Some have died and some are still living.

Those who have died take an added measure of thought. I decorate with ornaments and beautiful trinkets that they won’t enjoy admiring with me, purchase gifts that they won’t get, wrapping presents that they won’t open.

I miss that I can’t call them to tell them all that is going on with me this season…the good and bad. And while some have moved from my life for decades now, I find them coming to mind.

There was a time when I thought it would be better if I’d never thought of these folks again, simply because it was too painful. Especially soon after their deaths I thought this way.

But as time moved on, I came to think differently. I came to a place where it was comforting in a strange sort of way. Comforting because it was really the only way I could have a piece of them in my life.

And now, while it still stabs at my heartstrings when I realize I can’t have them here any longer, I am grateful for just the little things like memories of good times, things they said, things they did, gifts they gave me at other Christmas long ago. I think of special days we spent together, how they made me laugh and how we acted silly at times.

I guess what bothers me the most is that I’ll never have that back again. But I guess the love I shared with each unique person I’ve loved and who has gone now, can never be replaced exactly the same way with any other person who is now or will come into my life. It’s just the way it is.

So I try to be content with the memories because I can’t get back their presence. And even with all the pain I’ve endured with each person who left before me, no one can ever take my memories from me.

When Weird Things Happen

“I was standing in the garage and all of a sudden the door to the inside of the house swung open by itself. It freaked me out. Am I the only one who notices these things?” Tim in Oklahoma

Actually Tim, my mind is filled with stories from other people who have had similar experiences after a loved one has died or was killed. I, myself, have had these experiences as well.

Funny thing is…when you tell them to other people who aren’t in the same emotional place you are, they may think you’re a little nuts. But they can be a great source of contentment knowing that the person who died is right there with you.

I remember visiting a friend of ours one Sunday afternoon, whose daughter Maria had been murdered. As we sat in the living room talking, the front door slowly opened. There was no one near the door, nor at the door.

We all looked at her mother Luisa who told us, “Oh, that happens all the time since Maria was killed. I take that as her saying hello, as if she wants to be included.”

Another time, a small music box, which I had displayed in my living room and which I hadn’t wound or played in years, suddenly started playing while we were having dinner.

The first thing I thought was my stepdaughter, Angela was saying hello. And while it may seem like a strange occurrence, it actually was quite comforting at the time.

So when the garage door occasionally and suddenly opens, consider that your loved one is sending you a little sign. A gentle nudge just to say, “I’m with you, I love you, and you’re going to be ok.”