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
Your family and friends care, so you shouldn’t feel afraid to talk honestly about the sadness you’re experiencing during this time. If possible, you might also find it helpful to spend time with others, perhaps friends and family who don’t celebrate Valentine’s day too.
When experiencing grief, some people find it easier to talk to someone outside of their family and friendship group. GriefChat is a free online service who connects you to a trained bereavement counsellor. Counsellors are available from 9am to 9pm, Monday to Friday. Outside of these hours you can leave a message, the team will reply to you as soon as they are back online.
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.
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.