Valentine's Day is a holiday often associated with love, romance, and happiness. However, for those of us who are grieving the loss of a loved one, this day can be incredibly difficult.
The reminders of love and happiness can be painful and overwhelming, making it hard to know how to cope with our overwhelming grief. Here are some practical tips for navigating grief on Valentine's Day.
Do what you need to do to get through the day.
Coping with grief is a lifelong journey and looks different for everyone. Even if it’s been years since you lost your partner, events like Valentine’s Day can make their lack of presence feel even more pressing and overwhelming.
Give yourself permission to grieve in any way possible, even if you think it’s not acceptable for your stage of the grief journey. Everyone’s experience is unique and different, but there are a lot of commonalities and one is hiding the ugly truth of grief.
On days like Valentine’s Day that might be extra tough, lean into the less “healthy” coping mechanisms that are more self soothing and help you through the here and now.
Spend the day with friends and family.
If you’re up for it, spending time with loved ones can provide comfort and support during those difficult days. Surrounding yourself with people who care about you can help to ease the pain of grief.
This can be as simple as having a casual meal together or engaging in an activity that brings you joy. Having someone to talk to can also be extremely helpful, as sharing your feelings can help to reduce the burden of carrying them alone.
But if talking through your feelings today is too much, that’s okay. Just being in your friends or family’s presence can help ease that pain and be a welcome distraction from what you’re going through.
Limit your time on social media.
Valentine's Day is often heavily marketed and can be difficult to avoid. It’s a hugely commercialised “holiday” with companies sharing gift guides and outfit inspiration online, and people posting about their romantic love all over social media.
Limit your exposure to the holiday by reducing your social media consumption. Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram can be a constant reminder of what you have lost and what you’re missing. It's important to take care of your emotional well-being and take a break if you need to. Other distracting activities might be reading a book or watching a binge-worthy TV show.
Write in a journal.
For those who are up for working through their grief and feelings on Valentine’s Day, writing down your thoughts and feelings can help to process the emotions and heightened grief.
Reflecting on your memories and what you loved about your loved one can also be a healing process. You may find comfort in writing a letter to your loved one, or simply jotting down your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
Journaling has been proven to be hugely beneficial, especially with those struggling with their mental health and grief. Writing out your thoughts through journaling can help reduce stress and anxiety, help boost your mood, improve your sleep and overall help you process your emotions associated with grief.
Do something to honour your loved one.
Honouring your partner or spouse’s memory can help you feel closer and focus on the incredible love you had rather than the loss you feel.
It can be a physical memento like printing and framing a photo of the two of you that holds a strong memory, or planting a tree in the garden. It could be sharing a story about them online or to friends and family. Whatever you decide, celebrate their life in a way that feels meaningful to you
Final thoughts on Valentine’s Day grief.
Valentine’s Day isn’t a great day for anyone who’s not in a relationship, but much worse for those grieving the loss of their spouse or partner.