Healing Arts Column, Jan/Feb 2005
Did you realize that Valentines Day is really about honoring the death of St. Valentine? Granted there are many origins and various people said to be the "real" St. Valentine. But at least one of them was a priest who was beheaded on February 14th. So even this happy, la-la, hallmark-made-up, romance of a holiday is related to death! Valentines Day, to me, is one of the most explicit examples of how our society white washes death and the resulting grief journey for those who outlive the person who died.
So this Valentines Day, I encourage you to explore something more authentic. Go ahead and do the Godivas and champagne if you want. But for those who find that grief creeps into the Valentines rituals, I say, "Explore that, too!!"
Just take the plain old shape of a heart, the icon of Valentines Day. And with it explore the grief and how it relates to this la-la, made up holiday -- to any holiday -- to any day -- to every single day, all of which are holy days! Every day of your life is holy and meaningful and yours! And grief is a part of it for some. Don't deny it. Don't try to hide it. Don't shove it in the closet. Explore it. Make the exploration a mindful, holy journey.
Take that shape of the heart. And create something. Is it a broken heart? Is it really red? Is it made out of paper or glass or wood? What does that shape mean to you? What do you see when you think of it? Here are a few ideas to get you started -- explore -- create -- let us know how it goes:
1) Do you think of those childhood valentines when you think of the heart? Then go get a couple boxes of those kids' valentines. Get a large piece of poster board. Rip up the valentines, or cut them up, find other "red" and "white" images in magazines. Collage it all together on the poster board. What do you end up with?
2) Do you think of "wearing your heart on your sleeve?" Consider taking an old shirt and making art from it. Literally sew or staple or glue on pieces of hearts, or images, or found objects to make a piece of art that says something about your heart.
3) Do you think of wanting to just carry your heart's intention with you mindfully? Find an old cigar box or one of those unfinished pine boxes purses at the craft store. Write out your intention. Glue it on the box. Gather other representations of hearts or images that are meaningful to you. Add those to the boxes. Paint if you wish. Just alter the box to be a mobile altar honoring your heart's intentions. Add a handle to the top. Wa-la! Carry it with you as your purse.
4) Do you think of how much your heart breaks now that your loved one is dead? Find all kinds of representations of hearts. The shape of a heart. The image of human hearts. Anything you wish. Alter the images to show how you feel. Get a large canvas and glue the various altered images to the canvas in an arrangement that pleases you.
5) Do you think of many hearts in a row? Use cardstock to cut out a whole deck of heart shaped cards. Now on each card write something about the myriad of ways you related to the idea of a heart, to Valentines, to love, to death, to grief, etc. Share the deck with someone you love and trust. Use each card to talk with them about how they feel.
You get the idea! Go forth and create! Explore the reality of your heart without worrying about how you "should" feel this Valentines Day. Just BE. And express that being. If you want, be in touch with us and let us know how it goes for you! Please be sure to put "KOTA LOSS JOURNAL" in the subject line of your email so that we see it amid the volumes of spam we seem to be getting these days!
A Comprehensive Archive
A few readers have written to say it's difficult to locate previous issues of this column, so below is a comprehensive archive. Please note that each link here will pop open a new window containing the Poetry Therapy column named: