Holidays are painful when you are in grief but it seems (when living in it) that there is nothing worse than the month of February and Valentine’s Day to make you feel more alone in your grief. And most days grief does not need any help in making the griever feel more alone in their situation.
Once the service, celebration or funeral is over, others in your life seem to forget your grief or just don’t remember your plight. The pain takes over after the fog and numbness of grief lifts and it feels like no one remembers your situation and your loved one and we imagine we are the only ones who have ever felt this much pain.
Although I clearly remember having the flu on that first Valentine’s Day after Zac died and doing a lot of angry analyzing of my feelings, my internal focus was on others and their external actions. This worked for me as it was difficult to cope with the loss of normalcy in life, the overwhelmingness of all the feelings and the pain of the loss of any love in my life.
Now you may identify with this scenario as many who are grieving feel as if they are alone in their grief process and feel that they may not be able to share or discuss these feelings let alone feel that anyone else would understand their feelings of loss.
So, it was with this context in mind that I recently identified another piece to grief that I wished I had recognized at that earlier time in my grief process.
Last weekend we attended the showing of the movie Lincoln with great anticipation due to the reviews and a strong personal interest in the subject matter. The focus of this Steven Spielberg movie was President Abraham Lincoln’s last four months in office (and of his life) in which he worked to end slavery with the passage of the 13th amendment and reuniting the country after the Civil War. If this was not thought provoking enough …and, if this position and situation did not find him so alone at times (and the movie clearly demonstrated this) at this same time, he and his wife, Mary were grieving the death (and death anniversary in February) of their third son from 3 years earlier. (They also were grieving the February death anniversary of their second son who died twelve years before this second child’s death.)
While current death statistics show that about 2.5 million people die yearly, we usually do not think in terms of all those other people grieving those deaths. The movie Lincoln brought that fact clearly into awareness. So many people are grieving every day, regardless of the month.
This fact reminded me of another Steven Spielberg movie, Super 8 (2011) in which the hero, 14 year old Joe, says to the alien creature before he is released from earth’s captivity to return to his own home, “Bad things happen but you can still live…”
Yes, we can live in grief and we can live in the month of February – the month of love. So often we hear the phrase: “you are not alone” in your grief. Look at history, look at the statistics and look into your heart. The holidays can be painful but you - are - not - alone … I hope you find comfort on this Valentine’s Day…Chris