Valentine's Day and grief
Facing Valentine’s Day after the death of your partner can be a painful reminder of what's changed. In this blog, Bianca Neumann, Head of Bereavement at Sue Ryder, offers some advice on how to cope with the day without the person you love by your side.
Coping with grief on Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day is a time where people celebrate their love for each other, but for those who are grieving for their partner, both the day and the lead up to it can be really hard.
In this article, we're sharing advice and tips to support you through this time, suggesting alternative ways you can spend the day and cope with your grief.
Not everyone will feel the same way, and the day will bring up different feelings for different people. That's why it's important to be loving and kind to yourself. You may experience a range of emotions, but the most important thing is that you do what feels right for you.
Celebrate the love you have for your friends
Valentine’s Day has evolved past just being a day for couples, and we now have ‘Galentine’s Day’ and ‘Palentine’s Day’ that help people celebrate their love for their friends and family. So, on this Valentine’s Day, in the face of absence, try and celebrate the love that is all around you in your friends and family.
Reflect on what your partner’s love did for you
Just because your partner is no longer with you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t remember how their love made you feel. It can be painful, but it can also be a way of remembering them in a different light, focusing on the good times that made you who you are today.
We don’t have to make feelings go away when someone has died; we have to explore them, gently and at our own pace.
Write them a card to tell them how you feel
Sometimes getting our feelings out on paper can help us process the complex emotions we are feeling. Writing to your loved one may feel strange, but it is a way of validating your emotions and feeling closer to your loved one, even though they’re not there with you.
Do something that you used to do with your loved one
If you want to feel closer to your loved one, you could do something that you used to do together to remember them. That might be getting a meal from your favourite takeaway or simply a walk you liked to do together.
Know that you are not alone
You may feel like everyone in your life is celebrating with a partner, but know that you are not alone in your grief. Our Online Bereavement Community has lots of advice from bereaved people on how to cope with these kinds of days. It’s useful knowing that there are other people who understand. Don’t hold it all in.
Ignore the day completely
If you are really struggling with the thought of Valentine’s Day, you could ignore the day completely. Take the day off work if you can, delete your social media for the day and do things that make you happy - maybe that’s baking, watching a Netflix show, going on a walk or simply having a lazy day.
The truth is, Valentine's Day will be full of different feelings. Bereaved people often tell us that the run up to these days is actually more exhausting than the day itself. So this year, remember to be loving and kind to yourself.
Facing your first Valentine's Day after the death of your partner or spouse
Navigating through the first year after a bereavement can be particularly painful, especially when there are so many milestones to go through. At a time when you're processing your grief and trying to understand what it means for your future, Valentine's Day and the lead up to it can be really difficult to cope with. There's no predicting how you might feel, so try not to be too hard on yourself. Take each day as it comes, and know that we're here if you need support.
Parts of this blog post originally appeared on Female First, February 1 2021.
Online Bereavement Support
Our Online Bereavement Support provides helpful resources, qualified counsellors and a community of others with similar experiences to help you through your grief.
Head of Bereavement
Bianca is a healthcare professional and experienced psychologist and hypnotherapist, with a demonstrated history of working in the hospice, hospital and healthcare industry.