February is nauseating.

Though sweat mixed with tears can feel exhilarating, I had to stop. I sat down on the ground, exhausted; my arm simply could not toss the 49th raw egg into the cinder block wall in my backyard.  Yolks were dripping down the fence; egg cartons were scattered on the lawn, and my fatigue, perspiration and waterfall of tears now sent my body to a lump of grief on the grass.

I am a portrait of perspiration, agony, loneliness, disappointment and frustration.  It was Valentine’s Day, my second one as formerly engaged.

I always stroll down the garish and unavoidable Valentine’s aisle that actually began appearing in late December.  There is a yearning in my heart, not so much for the person who walked away from my love, but for a special someone to share daily tidbits.   I buy a valentine so I can rip it up and ditch in the garbage, like my fiancé did with our love.  I did not want to say good-bye, I do not want to feel better, and I am incessantly wondering what went wrong.

Inconsolable comments are suffocating me.  Parents:  “Buck up.”  Neighbors:  “Just come back to church.”  Friends:  “He isn’t worth it.”  Family:  “It’s time to move on.”  Best Friend:  “You are too good for him.”

Then there is my Grandma who told me about her boyfriend who dumped her when she was 17. Now that was comforting…she even smoked for awhile to deal with the stress!  I know smoking is bad for our health, but the fact Grandma told me she had stress about a lost love and coped with it in an undesirable way, conjures up courage to live with the hole in my heart!   (Of course, Grandma did add that if I started smoking she would tell my parents!)

I know my engagement is over.  It not only got comfortable and dependable, but it offered coziness in this world that has now disintegrated.   So I will remember and relive that past until it gets less and less hurtful.  This break-up is part of me, and will become a portion of who I am.  Let me be.  I am different now.  Is not an ended relationship a death?  Why then, is my grief unheralded?

Karen O. Johnson

Karen Johnson

Karen Johnson

Karen O. Johnson, M.Ed. began grief group counseling in 1981 with ten teens experiencing the death of a parent. Since then, she has worked with a large population of youth, families, and adults coping with loss as an individual and group counselor. Over the span of 35 years in the education industry, she has held various positions in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education including: teacher, counselor, principal, crisis team member and director and crisis line counselor and director in the Jordan, Murray, and Salt Lake School Districts in Utah, and the Texas Independent School District. Currently, Karen is the Area Chair, Lead Faculty in the Social Sciences Human Services Program at the University of Phoenix. Karen is also the founder of EveryDayGrief, LLC, a company offering seminars for helping professionals, where innovative techniques are shared to positively impact the grief journey of youth and adults. Along with counselor trainings, she runs grief support groups.

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