Valentine’s Day is a day when the death of a spouse, particularly if the death has taken place in the past year, is felt even more acutely. An aching loneliness lies in knowing that there is nobody from whom a Valentine’s Valentine’s Day. Celebration of Love. Pictures of Cupid flying above. Valentine’s Day. Your loss more immense. Heartache increased. Pain more intense. Valentine’s Day. Remembering you. There’s no place for singles when everyone’s two. For many people, Valentine’s Day is yet another of those annual events when consciousness of being alone in a world of couples is heightened. Phychological research shows that the confluence of commercial forces, societal norms and personal pressure to participate in St. Valentine’s Day all contribute to stress surrounding the Westernised celebration of the day. This is not surprising. Valentine’s Day is the day when romantic love is privileged. Therefore, all those whose relationships have ended, who have broken up with boyfriends or girlfriends, who are single, who are separated, divorced or bereaved, feel the singularity of their situation on this day. It is a busy day for the Samaritans because the depths of loneliness, of difference, of exclusion, of feeling unloved, unwanted and unattached, are confronted by many on Valentine’s Day.
Please talk about my loved one, even though he is gone. It is more comforting to cry than to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk about him, and I need to do it over and over. Be patient with my agitation. Nothing feels secure in my world. Get comfortable with my crying. Sadness hits me in waves, and I never know when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand. Don’t abandon me with the excuse that you don’t want to upset me. You can’t catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don’t know what to say, just come over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, “I’m sorry.” You can even say, “I just don’t know what to say, but I care, and want you to know that.”
This year more than any I can feel healing going on for me and I only say that to show that there is that hope to cling to. Winter and Christmas are bloody difficult times. For many here this is their first Christmas since the world stopped turning. The rest of the world keeps spinning but ours stopped on a particular day, on a definite minute.
I haven't posted in a while. Apart from being on sick leave from work for stress and anxiety I've caught a nasty cold and a really irritating cough. The runny nose is gone but the cough persists. I had a similar cough last autumn/winter. That lasted for four months. I just feel drained and tired. My daughter is on holiday in New York and the house is so quiet and empty. I really love the autumn season, so, I try to stay focused on keeping healthy in both mind and in body. I had the largest crop of apples in the thirteen years since I've lived here. I made loads of chutney and stored two full boxes of apples in my shed. Everyday I look out at my garden and look at the leaves turning into many different hues of autumnal shades. Leaves are scattered everywhere and the small wild birds are flocking around the bird feeder as they try to survive.
It piddling rain here in South Galway and I'm in my living room covered up with a soft Pennys throw. It's darkish outside and it really feels like winter. Maybe we've bypassed autumn all together. I've been making pot after pot of my not world famous apple & ginger chutney. So, it must be autumn. Right!! The house is so quiet. Even Daithi the cat is staying nearby. I think he and my dog Lola feel the loneliness of the empty nest that I'm surviving in. Denis the goldfish hasn't really changed his routine so I'm pretty sure that he is oblivious to my plight.
I have a story to tell. Perhaps it’s not really a story, but, rather, a little vignette from my life. It is a vignette that deals with reality, or truth, or perception, depending on the reader’s interpretation. Four months, one week, and two days ago my beautiful wife Catherine died, just short of our forty fifth wedding anniversary. It was a sudden and unexpected death. Although our children and I were inconsolable, I drew some small comfort from the fact that it was a very peaceful, painless and fear free passing from this life. But, it was only a small comfort.
Mother's Day will soon be here, and for many it will be the first without their Mother. The death of a loved one is difficult and notably so in the time leading up to special events such as, Mother's Day.
The Irish Hospice Foundation has produced a number of helpful videos dealing with loss and bereavement. This video entitled, ‘Living with Loss’ is four women who share their story. They talk about what it was like after their loved one died and how they were affected by the loss. They tell us what they found helpful and how they have managed to come through the early difficulties of bereavement. In the video they mention the benefit of the Bethany Bereavement Support Group and how it helped them to communicate their loss. Bethany Bereavement Support Group is a voluntary parish based ministry which aims to help the bereaved and grieving.