Reflection: Love and loss

Rasharra Smith PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Rasharra Smith PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

For many individuals like myself, we struggle internally to find emotional balance during times where our feelings might be contradicting.

February is a month that generally promotes the idea of love and appreciation for those we have in our lives. We prepare for Valentine’s Day with gifts and sweets for those we hold dearest to us.

During this time, we should be filled with joy and gratitude. However, for me, February gives me feelings of grief and sorrow.

I lost my father on Feb. 27, 2020, at the brink of the COVID-19 pandemic. His death left me scarred in ways that are indescribable. During this time of the year, I battle with finding the holiday spirit, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Holidays driven by love can be hard when you’ve experienced loss. And these feelings of loss might come from different experiences. Someone might be going through a breakup or divorce. After spending so much time with someone you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with, Valentine’s Day might be more difficult.

As soon as the month of February approaches, stores put up all their beautiful red and pink decorations. They set up huge displays full of flowers, chocolate and teddy bears. Walking past a store window is just a reminder of the love you might be lacking during your hardships. A simple trip to the grocery store for milk could lead to a rush of memories reminding you of the way things used to be.

For someone such as myself, dealing with my father’s death, I understand it’s paternal love that I long for. I know my dad can never be replaced. I also know that it’s because fathers are the first men to set the standard for love in their daughter’s lives that I struggle with finding love in other men.

I am single this year for Valentine’s Day, as I’m sure many others are as well. As the season of love comes marching in, our task then becomes finding a way through it. How can those experiencing loss or individuals who are single enjoy the holiday?

I will still be dressing up. If I don’t have a significant other to make me feel special and loved, I can do it for myself. I will be treating myself to a manicure and pedicure and getting my hair done. I will be dressing up to feel sexy and to take myself out for drink.

And don’t forget, ladies, there will be single men at the bars, too. Get dolled up and have some fun.

For my dad, I will be buying him some Valentine balloons and releasing them into the sky, hoping they reach him.

For those going through a breakup, there are businesses that have promotions for Valentine’s Day. For example, the restaurant Hooters allows customers to bring in a photo of their ex to shred. Singles also get free wings.

And for those feeling a little lonely this holiday season, do something special with all your single friends. Valentine’s Day isn’t just about romantic relationships. It’s about showing love in general. Buy gifts for your girlfriends or plan a best friend dinner date — as long as you’re spending time with someone you love that makes you happy.

Rasharra Smith is a student and writer at the University of Dubuque.

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