Grief and Valentine’s Day

When it comes to grief and holidays, especially at this time of year, it can feel hard to catch a break. After getting through the winter holidays with their emphasis on family, there is barely a moment to get your bearings before Valentine’s Day surfaces on the horizon. Even if you’ve never really felt connected to Valentine’s Day, advertisements and casual conversations about plans can leave you feeling isolated or eager to flee.

If you’re looking for help, Episode 05 of the Grief Out Loud podcast is full of strategies for approaching Valentine’s Day when you are carrying both love and grief in your heart.

Here are some ideas for acknowledging the day:

  • Decide ahead of time which traditions you and your family want to keep and discuss who will be responsible for what. Reassure yourself and others that it is okay to not continue certain traditions.
  • Connect with others you find to be supportive. This might mean setting up a phone call, email chat, or getting together for a walk or coffee.
  • Schedule some self-care that feels replenishing: go for a hike, check out a new movie, take a yoga class, meet up with friends, journal, or cook a nourishing meal.
  • If you have children, ask what helps them feel energized or calm. Kids need self-care too!
  • Volunteer for an organization or event that is meaningful to you.
  • Send a card, flowers, or an email to friends and family who are going through a hard time.
  • If it feels right, create a ritual or activity connected to the person who died. Ideas include: cooking a meal they enjoyed, going to their favorite restaurant, or making a card for them.
  • Many kids like to bring something - card, flowers, balloons - to the grave site or to where the ashes were spread. If it’s not possible to visit in person, consider displaying a picture or a drawing of the location and inviting children to place their gifts nearby.
  • Write a card or letter to the person who died. You might include: events you wish you could talk with them about (your son’s first soccer game, a promotion at work, a description of a sunrise you recently saw, etc), things you are grateful to them for, ways in which you and your family have grown or changed, or anything that comes to mind. You can keep, bury, or burn what you write.

Whatever you decide, go easy on yourself. There can be so much pressure, both internal and external, to think or feel a certain way. We’d love to hear what you decide to do (or not do) with the day. Share with us on Facebook.