Valentine’s Day is swiftly approaching, and many people are finalizing plans with their significant others. This can be a lonely time of year, however, for those who are single or who have yet to find love. It can be especially lonely and a hard time for those who have lost spouses. Social media is about to boom with pictures of candlelight dinners, roses, candy and stuffed animals. This can be very depressing if you’re forced to spend the day alone.
So, what do you do if you’re a widow or widower and you don’t want to get sucked into the murky depths of sorrow and depression? Here are a few tips from someone who knows your pain.
Reflect on the love lost.
I know you probably think this is counterproductive and may be contradictory to rising above the sadness, but it helps to reminisce on past love. I hate when people say to me as a widow, “It’s better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all” because they can’t even comprehend the magnitude of the pain experienced when a spouse dies. However, the saying is true. Some may never know what it’s like to connect and build with a spouse. You’ve been blessed and highly favored if you shared space and time with a soulmate. Reflect on the good times. Flip through old pictures. Write a letter to God or your deceased loved one. It helps to get all of the emotions out. Doing these things will remind you that just like God brought that special someone into your life before, God can do it again.
Focus on the love you have now.
There are many kinds of love despite our obsession with romantic love. Romantic love is not the superior form. The Bible acknowledges eros (erotic or romantic love), phileos (love as in a friendship) and agape love (a selfless and self-giving love as in the love that God has for us). We tend to get caught up in the eros kind of love while ignoring the others.
However, God has placed many people in our lives to provide for us the love and companionship we need. We can find them in our families, group of friends, children, co-workers and church family. Those relationships are resources God’s given to us to meet our needs. Instead of longing for a romantic relationship, celebrate the love God’s already placed in your life.
Take time to love on yourself.
Oftentimes when you’re a widow or widower – and especially if you have children – you neglect taking care of yourself. We’re too busy trying to hold it together and take care of everyone else. We fail to engage in self-love. Instead of sitting at home watching romantic movies and crying into a pillow, love on yourself. Take yourself out to dinner. Go to the spa. Get your hair and nails done. Go to the gym. Work on your body. Get a sitter, and get some much needed rest. Do something special for yourself on Valentine’s Day. You cannot love someone else if you fail to love yourself first.
Look forward to the possibility of love.
For many, widowhood is a temporary season. The season may last a few or several years depending on the person and his or her wants and needs. Remember this, too, will pass. Remind yourself that it won’t be like this always. There are many widows and widowers who marry again. Don’t get so stuck in the sorrow and despair of your present situation that you fail to see how God can bless you in the future. There is hope!
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day from Throw Up and Theology, and please share with someone who may need to read this!