Grief Journaling for Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day, like every holiday while grieving, is a difficult time to get through, especially after the loss of our “Valentine” or spouse. All of the aisles at the stores overflow with heart balloons, chocolates, flowers and cards celebrating love, and it compounds our feelings of loss and loneliness.
However, if we keep in mind that we can still celebrate, it can help us through this time. Here are some journaling exercises that can be helpful in healing from any kind of loss because they remind us to be grateful for love and to celebrate it.
We don’t take enough time to celebrate in our culture today. To celebrate means to refrain from ordinary business and mark an occasion with ceremony or festivities. It means to set aside time to honor someone or a special event. Today, we often just send a text wishing someone congratulations or put up a post on social media and don’t really take the time to truly celebrate. So, the journal exercises are about celebrating love: past, present, and future.
Celebrating Past Love
Journaling about past love can be an ongoing process. Before journaling, bring to mind the special people who showed you love in your past. This can include those that have died, but it could also be significant people that made a huge difference in your life that are still living but that you may not have a relationship with anymore, like an old boss, teacher, or mentor. Take a few long, slow breaths and celebrate their love in your heart and mind.
You can choose one person at time for each entry, or you can have a theme, like these are the people who made me who I am today, these are the people who shaped and guided my career, or these are my ancestors who I continue to be grateful for and celebrate the difference they made in my life and the world.
If you are journaling about your “Valentine,” meditate on how grateful you are that you experienced his or her love. Think about all the ways love was expressed to you and how special you felt. Remember when you first fell in love and all the “firsts,” like the first date, the first time he made you belly laugh, the first time you held hands, the first out of town trip, etc. Your life will never be the same without your Valentine but writing down all the occasions and expressions of true love can help keep the spirit of gratitude and celebration.
Celebrate Past Love
To celebrate past love, I also like to think of the people I have lost that truly believed in me and to thank them in my heart. While I miss their physical presence, I picture them being a part of my “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) that are my cheerleaders urging me to keep running my race and fulfilling my purpose. I like to picture the day when I get to see them when I cross the finish line and then a real celebration will commence.
In addition to journaling, take action to celebrate! My dear friend who lost her stepson not only is sharing her most special memories with me, but she took his favorite clothes and had a quilt made from them. It is adorable because it has squares with his jeans including the pockets and his jackets with the buttons. She said that at first she thought she would display it on the wall but instead, she keeps it on the couch and uses it daily! As she snuggles with it, she pictures his arms around her giving her a big hug! No matter how you honor the loved ones from your past, try to take time to celebrate their love.
Celebrate Present Love
For these journal entries, bring to mind all the people you have in your life today. Again, take deep breaths and celebrate their love in your heart. Write about all the ways they show you love and help you through life.
What would be very special is if you share what you write about them! My daughter unexpectedly shared what she wrote about me. I printed it out and put it in my journal. I cherish it and re-read it when I need encouragement. Take the time to let the people that love you know how special they are to you. Take them out for coffee or lunch and tell them how much they mean to you.
Celebrate Future Love
This exercise is to simply remember that we never know the love that we will get to experience in the future. We need to stay open because we do not know who we will get to meet and who will love us in the future. I look at my grandson and my heart overflows with love.
Just a few years ago, I didn’t know he would even exist. I picture maybe one day having more grandchildren and celebrate the love coming my way. I didn’t know that I would get a job at a high school and that I would love all of these teenagers and that they would love me.
In all of this celebration, depend on your faith and know that the love of your Creator has been with you in your past, is with you now and always will be. Love has energy and power. It is love that carries us through our trials. Practice gratitude and the art of celebration for all the love: past, present, and future in your life.
Read more by Bunny Bennett: Embracing the Highs and Lows – Open to Hope