Valentine’s Day: Grief, Healing and Loving Bonds

My brother had buttons made for us
to wear at Dad’s funeral last summer.
They said, “And me, you”.
It’s family code for “I love you”.

My Mom taught Dad to say that to us kids
after we would give him a big hug and tell him we loved him.
He never knew what to say or how to respond.
“Johnny, just say ‘And me, you’,” she told him.
He did. It became his way of expressing love.

It was one of the last things he said on his deathbed.

Now It’s Valentine’s Day, six months after his death.
He isn’t here to say it in the same way.
But, I’ll be wearing this button in honor of the loving bond between us.

You, too, might be missing someone who died that you deeply love:
spouse, parent, child, neighbor, sibling, co-worker, friend.
It can help your grief if you have a sense of the ongoingness
of your connection.

That can mean different things for different people.
It depends on your beliefs about what happens after death,
the Afterlife and whether consciousness survives the death of the body.
It depends on your culture and familial beliefs.

You might believe that you can continue to communicate with them in spirit.
You might believe they communicate with you through signs and messages.
You might believe you’ll be reunited after your death.
You might believe they’ll be reincarnated and maybe you’ll meet again.
You might believe they’re dead and gone and that’s the end of it.
Or you might be a mish-mash of beliefs that are evolving over time.

How you experience your connection will be shaped by your belief system,
your experiences and the meaning you make of them.

I like how George Bonanno put it in his book,
The Other Side of Silence:
“Whatever my father was — a spirit, a memory, a cluster of neurons activated in my brain,
a vague opening in the cosmos–it just didn’t matter.
All that I cared about at that moment was that I felt deeply
and immutably bonded with him”

Yup.

Regardless of your current belief system,
here’s my Valentine message to you:
Your love didn’t die, nor need the bond between you.

Whether you find yourself talking to them
or talking about them with others…
Whether you think about them or
do certain things the way they did them…
Whether you honor them by cooking their favorite meal
or by cooking up a simple ritual…
There are all kinds of ways you can express your love
and nurture your bond.

So how about you?

When do you notice your connection with your beloved(s)?

What stories, songs, traditions remind you of them?

What do you do to create reminders of your connection?

Want a suggestion for a simple ritual of connection on Valentine’s Day?

Light a special candle for them.
Pull our your journal. Take a few deep breaths. Say hello.
Write something you miss about them.
Write something you’re doing to continue their legacy.
Write about what they might tell you about how to feel closer
to them in the future.
Write about what they might notice about how you’ve shown
courage, strength, love, hope, capability.
Say good-bye. Blow out your candle.

Me?
I’m going to wear this pin.
I’m going to eat my Mom’s favorite kind of chocolate,
tell the people in my life I love them and
devote myself to loving more.

& Me YOu

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