Coping with Grief on Valentine’s Day
Just as you make it through the winter holiday season, Valentine’s Day hits. If you are grieving a beloved, this day is one of the worse—like salt in a wound. It is natural to revisit grief on anniversaries and holidays, but it can be very challenging to weather all the commercial reminders that Valentine’s Day brings.
You will make it through. It might not be pretty, and that is OK. Grief is messy. And whether it has been one, two, or ten years, it is normal to feel that bittersweet heartache when you revisit memories of Valentine’s Days gone by with the one you love.
Make A Plan
It is uncomfortable to face pain, and our cultural tendency is to either avoid it or overindulge and wind up suffering. If you make a plan for Valentine’s Day, you can mindfully cope with whatever arises. It might feel right to minimize the day, or it might feel better to remember.
Grief experts, myself included, know that having a plan for any holiday or anniversary can help reduce the anticipation—even if you toss out “the plan” at the last minute! Here are a few ideas:
- Plan for “business as usual.” It is totally acceptable to not celebrate the day at all. Of course it is highly unlikely that you will be able to pretend Valentine’s Day doesn’t exist, so know that it is possible to have a grief reaction, even if you treat the day as any other.
- Stay in bed and hang out with grief. Yes, this is an option. We know you cannot rush through grief. It is a process. So if it feels right, grab your grief journal, some chamomile tea, and give yourself permission to feel what you really feel.
- Join a local widow/widower group. In some communities, these groups will host a Valentine’s Day brunch. If you are feeling especially motivated, you could start one yourself.
- Plan a meal with good friends or your family. Decide if you want to go out or if you would feel better staying in. Let them know it is a tough day for you, and how they can help.
- Remember your beloved. Whether you choose to volunteer for the day at your loved one’s favorite charity, visit their grave site, write them a letter, or hike to your favorite vista, remembering your beloved on this day is a way to continue the bond you share.
- Reconnect with your own heart through meditation. While suggesting that you “be your own Valentine” is a bit corny, and won’t fill the void left when a loved one dies, this guided meditation may help you realize that your heart isn’t broken, it is in fact very full. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!