Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentines Day Can Be A Very Painful Holiday

Thanks to Susan Triton, Shepherdstown, Indiana for sharing this article with us for our blog... she received it a few weeks ago from a family member who knew that she was still having a terrible time  coping with the sudden tragic death of her 9 year old son Colin, last summer 2012...Each and every holiday for her seems to be worse than the last.  Susan also said that this and other similar articles and blogs like ours help to remind her that her pain and grief are normal and that it's OK to feel as she does.  Furthermore, they ease her fear that she will remain in this valley of death forever..  I've assured her she won't-none of us stay in that valley forever and in time, she will find peace and she will smile again as she remembers Colin, but it takes time - lots of time... Keep her in your prayers... Cherie Houston

Valentine's Day Can Be A Very Painful Holiday.....

Most of us who are grieving brace ourselves for the traditional Holiday Season, which begins at Halloween, continues through Thanksgiving, crests with Christmas and Hanukkah, and ends with New Year’s Eve. While the Season can be wonderful for many, it can be a very difficult time for those who are grieving the recent death of someone important to them, such as a child, spouse or parent.

You might erroneously think that once the new year has passed, grievers will have some relief from the constant reminders that someone they love is no longer alive. But by early January, the marketing machine revs up for the next cycle of cards and gifts—to usher in Valentine’s Day.

Every flower shop, card store, jewelry store, candy store, drug store, and supermarket decorates its shelves and aisles with the traditional pink and red hearts and clever Cupid images to compel us to celebrate our romantic love with our significant others and the magic of love with our children..

For anyone who has lost a loved one - a spouse, child, parent or anyone close to us, this can be one of the most painful of all holidays. The romantic arrows from Cupid’s bow, now become painful darts that hit us in our emotional center - reminding of us of lost loves... 

After all, most of us begin the Valentine traditions in pre-school, when we begin making Valentine’s cards for friends and family. As we get older, we shift our focus from family and friends to romantic attachments. By the time we are courting, dating, creating long-term relationships and bringing children into this world, Valentine’s Day becomes the day we use to declare or reaffirm our bonds of love.

As our relationships blossom and grow, the annual celebration of Valentine’s day—along with anniversary date—becomes the most personal and special loving tradition. And as with the cards, flowers and candies, the image of the heart is always used to symbolize that love.
When someone we love dies, our emotional heart is broken. The heart—the very symbol of the Valentine’s Day celebration—is the aspect of our being that is most damaged by the death of a child or spouse.

Compounding the heartache is the fact that there is very little societal awareness of the pain being experienced by those who are dealing with the death of a child or spouse that first Valentine’s Day after their child or spouse has died. Even surrounded by family and friends, they may feel isolated, alone, and as if no one understands. And those feelings can extend long past the first few years.

"Grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone whom you thought would always be there, sharing the future with you, only to discover when you least expect it, they are no longer there.”  

Grief is the normal and natural immediate reaction when someone we love dies, especially a child or spouse. The range of emotions that encompass grief is very wide, and is not limited to sadness. The feelings are a reflection of the many different aspects of the relationship and even the circumstances of their deaths.

That range of feelings is also the normal and natural reaction when you are reminded that someone who has been such a big part of your life is gone, even if the reminder is months or years after they have died.  Some special days and some events are powerful reminders of the fact that someone very important is missing from our life. Valentine’s Day, like birthdays and anniversaries, is one of those very special days, which can create an immense amount of painful emotional energy.

Unfortunately, when a grieving parent or spouse talks about their sadness and other feelings, they are often met with comments like, “Don’t feel sad, you should feel grateful for the time you had.” It is probably accurate to say that one of the feelings a grieving parent or spouse might have is gratitude. But gratitude is unlikely to be the most dominant feeling at holiday events. Sadness, loneliness, and confusion are more likely to be the emotions that well up in a grieving person on special occasion holidays, especially the first of each of those events following the death.

Grieving parents and spouses also hear the incorrect idea that we all learn from an early age, that “Time heals all wounds,” or “Grief just takes time.” Believing that to be true, the griever waits to feel better. But time is neutral. Time, of itself, does not do anything except pass and many parents and widows/widowers who are grieving say that over time their pain seems to get worse.

It is accurate to say that grieving people are not broken, and do not need to be fixed. To a great extent, what they need is for someone to listen to them, without judgment, analysis, or criticism.   It is also realistic to say that grieving people are left with some unfinished emotional business.

Even when the best of relationships is ended by death, those left behind discover things they wish had been different, better, or more; and are painfully aware of unrealized hopes, dreams, and expectations about the future.

It has been said that Grief and loss are the price to be paid for loving someone..and the more we love the stronger that sense of grief and loss..   

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