All healing is first a healing of the heart.
- Carl Townsend
It's Valentine's Day. Everywhere we turn there are symbols of love and references to the joy inherent in relationships. It doesn't matter if a person is actually experiencing pain today, and it doesn't matter if their relationship status is inclusive of a terribly broken heart. We are still bombarded by symbols of joy. For survivors of suicide loss who have lost their spouses or partners, this holiday can be particularly cruel.
Some of us though, have gone on to heal enough that we've been able to move on to a new chapter in our life. Some of us have begun to be able to love again. In fact, this is where I am today. I am in love. And while falling in love after having lost someone to suicide has had its unique challenges, I have also learned to count my blessings. I live in profound gratitude that I am able to have this type of love in my life.
But of course I am thinking about John, my boyfriend who died, too. I cannot help but think about prior Valentine's Days. Some of the memories are sweet and some sting. But all of them lay side by side in my heart, and they remind me that this is the nature of life. Sweet and stinging both at the same time. I've learned that living in acceptance of this duality is how we get by. Living in this acceptance is how I've begun to allow myself to love once again.
Today though, I am also thinking about my fellow survivors of suicide loss - especially those whose loss is fresher than mine. This morning I decided to reread the post I'd written on this blog, one year ago on Valentine's Day. In that post, I shared the details of pulling myself out of the worst of an eating disorder relapse that had occurred shortly after John died. On Valentine's Day last year, I wrote about healing. Although I still believed I'd never experience romantic love again (I was wrong), I did understand what it was that had carried me through my first few months of grief.
I want to share that writing with you all, again, today. One year ago I didn't realize I might love again. What I did know was that I would not let a broken heart dictate how I would heal or how I would love in the future.
From last year's post:
Most importantly, I am still surrounded by the very same constant miracle that held me up and saved me last year. The miracle today has not lessened. Instead, like love itself, the miracle has expanded.