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How to cope with grief on Valentine's Day

For those who are grieving the loss of a spouse or loved one, regardless of how much time has passed since the death, Valentine’s Day can be a particularly difficult time. But Valentine’s Day can also be a special time of remembrance, an opportunity to reflect on the love you shared and to find comfort in memories of the times you spent together.

This guide explains how to cope with grief on Valentine’s Day and suggests some of the things you can do to make the day a little bit easier.


Talk about how you're feeling

There are some dates which can be particularly difficult and this is one of them. Plan ahead how you will spend any free time you have during the day - maybe do something special to remember such as treating yourself to the flowers or choclates that have perhaps been always given to you in the past. Or maybe find something to do that will distract you from all the media coverage and red roses on sale in the shops.

When struggling with grief, some people find it easier to talk to someone outside of their family and friendship group. Simplicity offers grief help and support through the National Bereavement Service's (NBS) webchat. It is a free online service which connects you to a trained advisor. The service is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm and you can benefit from it by clicking on the chat box at the bottom of this page.


Do something in their honour

Do something special in memory of your loved one and celebrate their life and the time that you had together.

You may want to look through photographs, listen to their favorite song, or watch their favorite film. If they were buried, you may also want to visit their graveside and take a fresh bouquet of flowers. If they were cremated, you could plant a tree in your garden to remind you of your loved one.

Alternatively, you may want to make donate a gift (for example to a children’s charity) or donate money you would have spent on your loved one as a gift to charity in their honour. Some people also choose to volunteer their time. Helping those less fortunate than ourselves can not only put some of your own struggles in perspective, but it can also make you feel good.


Treat yourself

If you don’t have someone to bring you flowers and chocolate, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to something special on Valentine’s Day. This is a day to spoil yourself and enjoy a little self-care, especially if you are missing someone special.

Looking after yourself can easily get overlooked when experiencing grief so try to get enough sleep, eat well and avoid too much alcohol, which tends to provide only temporary relief. You should also get outside for fresh air and exercise, if you can.

You shouldn’t need a reason to pamper yourself especially under these circumstances but if you do, the 14th February is the perfect day for it.


Do something creative

If you are the sort of person who prefers to express their emotions and feelings in a more creative manner, Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to do that.

Write a short story or a poem, paint a picture or draw something that represents the feelings for your lost loved one. You could even make a memory box by gathering letters, photographs and keepsakes you have from your loved one and putting them in to a special memory box that you can reopen and reminisce over when you need to.

If you have children, you could involve them too. While Valentine’s Day is often thought of primarily as an occasion for adults, it can be fun to include children in the celebration with you, especially if you are remembering their other parent.


Avoid social media

Pictures of the flowers, fancy dinners, and of couples’ selfies are all things that might make you feel worse, which is why you may want to considering avoiding social media on Valentine’s Day.

Sometimes, the build-up to a special occasion such as Valentine’s Day can be really overwhelming and the day itself can end up being something your dread each year. It’s okay if you don’t want to celebrate that day and instead treat it as any other normal day.


Valentine’s Day will never be the same without your loved one, and it’s okay to experience sadness at this thought. But by planning ahead and incorporating some of these activities into the day, you may find it just a little bit easier.

Visit our grief & loss support page if you would like further advice on how to help someone who is grieving or for help with personal grief.

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