If your heart is broken, then Valentine’s Day may not feel like the joyous day the T.V. commercials make it out to be. For starters, reminders of lost relationships abound. Grocery store displays are filled with romantic sweets, restaurants offer special romantic meals, and flower shops promote flowers as the essential ingredient of romance. It is as if the ghosts of romances past have come to haunt the broken-hearted. There is also the subtle — and not so subtle — myth that one cannot be complete or whole until one is in a romantic relationship. This myth, of course, is patently false. It only serves to accentuate the loneliness many feel on February 14. The corollary myth is that it’s not okay to be alone, especially on Valentine’s Day. Truth be told, it is okay to be alone and single. It may not be what you want, but it is truly okay. Feeling alone or lonely is part and parcel of having a broken heart. But when should you begin looking for a new relationship? It’s different for everyone. The best advice is to be honest with yourself. Are you looking to distract yourself from the pain? Are you trying to avoid being alone? If you trust your heart you’ll know when you’re ready.
Here’s a bit of good news: Valentine’s Day is a good day to grieve. Give yourself permission to let it all out and mourn. Light a candle, call your best friend, go to the grave site, make an appointment with your therapist, meditate, listen to special music, hunker down and cry. In all, be good to yourself and take time to remember. This is the day to dwell on the bitter-sweetness of remembering.
Don’t fight the process, don’t pretend to be alright. Fight the temptation to bury the pain through temporary “feel good” behaviors such as: serial dating, excessive shopping, excessive sleeping, over-eating, or escaping into a movie. Momentary escapes are all too brief while emotional rebounds can be harsh. In the end, the pain that is avoided will undoubtedly find new and destructive ways to wreak havoc on your life.
There are no short cuts to grieving. It is what must happen before life can move forward. Grief and the expression of grief, mourning, facilitate our adaptation to unforeseen and unwanted changes. Grieving pushes grievers to a deeper understanding of themselves and their values. We learn to feel more deeply and we can become more deeply connected to our human-ness through this very human experience.
Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for anyone who is grieving. It’s a great time to get caught up on that unfinished emotional business you’ve been putting off. Be good to yourself this year. Pull the covers over your head and have a good cry. Let yourself remember the good times and the not so good times. Those memories are going to come up anyway, so stop fighting the process. Grieving is good for your heart, just like going to the gym. Trust your heart.