Coping with Grief on Valentine’s Day

You’ve seen the commercial—the one where the guy tells the dog to deliver a beautiful piece of jewelry to his wife for Valentine’s Day? For couples, this is a clever way of pushing jewelry on a holiday known for over-the-top romance and gestures of love.

But for those grieving the loss of a loved one, Valentine’s Day is often filled with crushing disappointment and loneliness. Because we live in a visual world, the commercials and social media posts end up bringing even more hurt.

If you’re grieving a loss, here are a few ideas to help you get through Valentine’s Day:

Allow big feelings

Recognize that this might be a difficult day for you, especially if you lost a spouse. Memories of past Valentine’s Days, special gifts and memorable dates will be a bittersweet reminder of what is gone. If you’re prepared to face your grief, you’ll be far better equipped to deal with your emotions than someone who is surprised by grief. Your emotional preparation doesn’t dull the pain, but it does allow you to grieve and release those feelings in a healthy way.

Redefine the day

Since Valentine’s Day is often associated with romantic love, it’s easy to miss the other loves in your life—namely special friends and family. Take the day to celebrate a meaningful relationship—go out for lunch together, send a card, or plan a special night out. Redeem the day and recognize that love is broader than one relationship.

Remember your loved one

Valentine’s Day is a good time to head out to the cemetery and leave a special reminder of your love—a red rose, a heart-shaped decoration or a letter written to your loved one. Taking time to remember your loved one is a healthy way to process grief.

Avoid social media

The pictures of the red roses, the fancy dinner, and the couples’ selfies are all ways to make you feel worse, which is why you should avoid social media on Valentine’s Day. You won’t miss anything important and you’ll avoid the temptation to compare your life with someone else’s (which often isn’t a true representation anyway).

Self care

Do something that is restorative and healing on Valentine’s. Go for a massage or pedicure, order carry out and watch a favorite movie—plan for self care now so that you’re not scrambling to get an appointment on Valentine’s. Recognizing the difficulty of this day and caring for yourself will work wonders in helping you get through the day.

For those who aren’t in grief, but want to help

If you know someone grieving the loss of a spouse, consider reaching out to them on Valentine’s.  A card, cup of coffee or small gift goes a long way in helping them get through the day. One small act of kindness whispers, “I see you and you are not forgotten.”