Johnathan Thomas, MBA, PhD, D.DIV
Valentine’s Day is a beloved day for those in love. But if you’re grieving the loss of a spouse, fiancé or partner, coping with the day can be emotionally taxing.
Cupid’s arrow can pierce your heart in a very different way on Valentine’s Day. Everywhere you look, shops are suddenly filled with cards, flowers, chocolates, jewelry and stuffed toys for ‘that someone special’. What was once a day full of love, can now be a day full of sorrow.
It’s important to remember that love doesn’t end with death. In fact, the experience of grief means that you truly have loved. As Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” While death ends a physical life, it doesn’t end the relationship you have with your loved one. The bonds of love continue in a different way and on a different level.
The key to making it through Valentine’s Day is to do what works best for you. There’s no cookie cutter approach.
Here are a few things you might like to try.
- Prepare in advance
While ignorance might be bliss, it’s almost impossible to avoid the trappings of Valentine’s Day. There’s no secret formula but try to focus on the fact that it’s just one day.
- Allow the emotions to come
Grief never fits into a neat timetable and it’s not healthy to pretend that everything’s fine when it’s not. No matter how prepared you think you are, grief can still overcome you with emotion. Let the emotions come, welcome the emotion as you would a loving guest into your home – just try to keep them from overwhelming you.
- Keep Active
If you’re dreading the rush of emotions that will come with Valentine’s Day, try planning an activity that will take your mind off things. Or schedule some quality time with family and friends.
- Share the story of your romance
Take a stroll down memory lane with your family and friends. Tell them stories about the romantic side of your relationship. Look at old photos. They’ll get a kick out of it and so will you.
- Take yourself out on a date.
Treat yourself to some feel-good indulgences. Send yourself some flowers. Go to the spa for a facial. Get a massage. Or perhaps just slip into your most comfy PJs and watch your favorite movie.
- Love yourself
Make a list of the five things your significant other loved most about you and read them aloud to yourself. Or buy yourself a present that you think he or she would give you and think about them each time you wear it or use it.
- Celebrate ALL your relationships
Although Valentine’s Day is marketed to lovers, it doesn’t just have to be limited to them – in fact, far from it. It can be a day to focus on anyone and everyone whom you love, including children, grandchildren and friends. Every day is a good day to tell your loved ones that you love them.
Whether it is your first year without your loved one, or it has been several years, it’s important to find a way to honor your memories of them and celebrate the fact that love is eternal.