“I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.”
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Valentine’s Day – a day devoted to love – can be painful for those who have lost the one who seemed to complete them. It matters little how long that person was in our lives, the years stretching before us might seem empty. Looking around at people sharing a day of celebrating the love they have for that someone-special can magnify the feeling of loneliness and yearning for one who was dear to us.
Recently, someone shared that since her husband died, she has been struck by how much her love for him has grown, not diminished. Her heart was not irreparably broken as she thought it would be. Instead, it is as though the place where her own heart resides has expanded to be large enough to hold both of their hearts – she feels his heart beating not in unison, but in harmony with her own.
If a loss was too recent to experience more than yearning for a loved one’s touch, their voice, their smile, how can we find comfort in Valentine’s Day? Some suggestions might include writing to them – a love letter; a poem; a recollection of the times spent together. Speak their name aloud. Look at photo albums of together-times. Do you save greeting cards from past Valentine’s Days? Perhaps retrieve them and read the lines once selected especially for you.
And don’t forget that in order to love another, we have to first love ourselves. So spend time on Valentine’s Day doing something that brings you comfort. What is it that you find soothing? Take time to indulge in whatever pastime brings you peace on a day that celebrates love – an emotion that can last forever.
Bunny O’Dell, 2021