Soon January will flow into February, another month with short colder days, often dreary. It is also the month with the sweetest, most passionate holiday — Valentine’s Day. When you have lost your life partner, whether recently or years ago, whether you are on your own or in a new relationship, Valentine’s Day can be an arrow to the heart. Our losses and grief can be deeper, more painful, when it seems as though the world is celebrating connection to the one special person.
Our love relationship is severed in many ways with the death of a partner. Love can live on long after death. It can go on forever in ways that are meaningful and healing. Continued connection does not mean denial of reality or unhealthy preoccupation with your deceased loved one. It is natural to want to find a way to move forward in your life without losing all that was precious from the past.
We can continue our relationship through countless ways. How you respond to possibilities will depend on the beliefs you hold regarding what happens after death. Here are a few ways to connect to your love on ‘’s Day or any day even though you are parted:
Talk To Your Loved One. Have a conversation inside your head or out loud. Let it be stream of consciousness and see what emerges or discuss a specific topic. Specific conversations might be reliving good memories, struggles with problems you used to handle together, latest happenings in the family, events in the news. It can also be a back and forth conversation about unresolved issues between the two of you. Often the words from your partner will come through you in ways that seem real.
Visiting a gravesite is a place where people often talk to loved ones. So is walking around the house, strolling in nature, sitting in a garden, watching the ocean — all ideal settings to feel connection to a partner who has passed on. Talking out loud to someone who is not physically present may feel crazy if it is new to you. However, before long it will feel natural and often therapeutic.
Write A Letter. It could be a love letter on a special day such as Valentine’s Day. Put your feelings into it. Your letter could also be expressing grief or frustration. You could write a poem, a song, pour your heart out with paint or felt pens. Anything goes.
Written dialogue is a way to resolve unfinished issues with your loved one. Write what you have to say and then let your partner answer in writing coming through you. Often it will seem as though you are having a two-way conversation.
Another way to write to your partner after death is to ask a question. Do this in handwriting, asking the question using your dominant writing hand. Then when you want your partner’s answer, switch to your non-dominant hand. That is a good way to get out of your head as you struggle physically to write with your more awkward hand. You may be surprised by what comes to back to you.
I wrote to my late husband Don using my dominant right hand, asking him for an early Valentine’s Day message. I switched my pen to my left hand to get his answer. His sweet reply was: “I love you still.” I don’t know if those words came from me or through me from him. What I do know is that the message will lift my spirits on Valentine’s Day, no matter what the source.
Bring Photos To Life. Just looking at pictures of life with your partner is a popular way to take a trip down memory lane, bringing joy and sorrow. Photos can also be used as a means to rejoin your loved one and relive a memory on a deep level.
Here is one way to have a memorable photo encounter: Just imagine you are looking at a favorite picture of you and your partner. Let yourself get relaxed and dreamy, similar to a meditative state. Then imagine you are entering the photograph. Be fully present in that moment from the past. Be there as vividly as you can. You can even interact with your partner as though you have stepped into the past as a time traveler.
Doing this may seem to be a trip in your imagination or it could feel quite authentic. Needless to say, be sure you are up for the possibility of an intense emotional experience if you really go for it. Having a support group to talk about your experiences is always helpful.
Meet In Your Dreams. Before going to sleep set an intention to remember your dreams. The minute you awaken notice if you have caught some fragments. If you have been following your dreams for years then you probably do this easily. If dreamwork is new to you, be patient if it takes a while to catch even a piece of a dream.
You can invite your partner to come to you in the dream world. If you set this intent every night, you will probably find you have dreams related symbolically to the person you have lost. Some people have what is called a “visitation dream.” You will actually feel as though you are having a visit with your partner. It can appear very real, in 3D, involving more than one of your senses. It is a rare type of dream, unforgettable and evoking a sense of awe.
Sky Gazing. People have stared at the sky for centuries, often believing it to be populated by gods, angels, mystical characters and spiritual wonder. Communion with the night sky often brings a sense of peace, a feeling that you are part of the vast universe — connected to the people you have loved even though death has separated you physically. If you sky gaze often, it can be very comforting.
Reminders Of Your Loved One. Having something special around that brings you close to your loved one can strengthen your connection in healthy ways. It might be an article of clothing, framed photographs, jewelry, good luck tokens. One woman would wrap herself in her husband’s robe after his death, especially in the evening when she felt lonely.
Nature, Objects. Many couples’ bonds exist in the world of nature and persist as signs long after the death of a loved one. This includes connections through insects, birds, flowers, trees — the whole bounty of nature.
One couple had a backyard flower garden that attracted butterflies. The wife loved butterflies, especially the rare blue ones. After his wife died, the husband would feel her presence when he would sit in the garden and see butterflies, especially if he saw a blue butterfly. For him, it was a though she was paying him a visit.
A good resource for more on this topic is the popular book Signs by Laura Lynne Jackson.