A Valentine's Day Without You.
Handling the Day without Your Sweetheart.
The various shades of red and pink have obviously been scattered about in the stores lately. In fact, I went out to lunch with my child and could not help but notice the faux bouquet of roses laying strategically on its side at the front desk. Maybe you’re also seeing more advertisements of getting that perfect ring for an engagement, an anniversary, or just a romantic way to hear “I love you.” Yes, yes, another Hallmark holiday is upon us. Cue the cardboard hearts of the assorted funny filled chocolates…the roses…winged cupids with their bow and arrows…and anything advertising the “X’es and O’s”… and hearts, hearts, and more hearts. Also, cue the tears of anger, bitterness, sadness, loneliness, guilt, and just simply overplaying the broken record of
“Why did this have to happen to me?
What did I do to deserve this?”
As we move through the holidays, grief heavily grips our hand and reminds us where we are. Who we are now. Valentine’s Day can be utterly triggering to many widows and widowers. For many, it is a reminder that you no longer partake in the traditional couple’s wooing holiday of spoiling one another with sweets, goodies, or just expressing the “I Love You” that may mean the most to you and your person.
Regardless of where you may be at this time of loss, this time of year will remind you of that absence. Like a cruel joke, you may feel like you stand out amongst others in the world without your lover. Although feelings may be heavy at this time of year, it does not mean that you cannot find some form of peace and comfort to get through the day. Maybe it will sound or feel a little unconventional for you, but bear with me on this. The grief we experience is an expression of our love. Maybe you have heard something along the lines of this, a meme, a quote taken from a book, or a line in a movie. How about that infamous line from WandaVision? “But what is grief, if not love persevering?”
(While this one may provoke eye rolls, it spoke to my soul and I could not sustain a dry eye hearing that line the first time…or even the second time.)
Dealing with The Day.
Here are a just few tips on ways of handling grief. Some may be new to you. Some may serve as a reminder as this may not be your first Valentines Day without your person. Either way, one may resonate with you and my hope is that you take any that do with you as you go through the day. Please reconsider any that might not have worked in the past. You could have a different outcome this time around.
The day may feel like this world was made for couples. You may want to refrain from outings like restaurants on February 14th since there is most likely the chance that you will see couples out having their meals together and that could be triggering to say the least. You could always spoil yourself with a meal and opt for take out including using a delivery service like DoorDash to bring your meal. Oh, and maybe refrain from the local store or grocery store too since there may be last minute Valentines to be purchased in the flower, candy, or card sections if you feel it'll make your heart heavier than it already is.
Indulge in a treat like a pedicure or manicure. Really try and do this. Guys too. Try something new like a desensitization tank (a.k.a. salt tank or float). I can personally attest to how wonderful those are to the mind, body, and soul! Maybe get a massage, but look into a private massage therapist than those large-scale massage parlors that have Couples Massage advertisements displayed about. Attend a yoga class. Let the energy move through you as you participate in poses and just breathe.
Plan something with a buddy. Valentine’s Day is not something that everyone celebrates and there may just be a friend close by who would love to catch up with a cup of coffee or a brisk walk outdoors.
If you have children, pour your love onto them with treats or activities. Regardless of age, a sweet Valentine expression to show him/her that you love them can bring a smile to their face and warmth in your heart. Don't forget your fur babies.
Hold space to devote some time remembering your person. Maybe talk aloud or in your mind to him/her. It is not a silly thing to do. Do what feels right to you and go with it.
Journal your feelings or maybe write a letter to your angel sweetheart. Writing can be cathartic and allows you to process your grief in a safe and healthy way. Dr. Lisa Shulman of The American Academy of Neurology explains, “journaling helps short-circuit the chronic stress following traumatic events. Reconnecting and becoming more comfortable with suppressed memories calms the fear center of the brain, which is on overdrive during the grieving process.” Consider free style writing or if you need something to focus on or to start with, then consider a journaling prompt. You can Google or Pinterest “Grief Journaling Prompts” and there are so many to choose from!
Refrain from any alcohol or substances that may spiral you into an altered state especially because you intend to numb your thoughts or feelings. Think and act responsibly. Reach out to supports if you need them. 988 is a 24-hour crisis hotline available to anyone in the USA.
Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. This day can be difficult for many as is reminds us we do not have our Valentine with us to love on and to feel loved upon. If the day feels just so unbearable and you are compelled to just cry and feel miserable, please give yourself the time to feel and be in that moment. Sometimes we just need to sit in this pain and discomfort. If that is all that we can be in that moment, then that is more than okay.
May you find some comfort on this day and space to love yourself.
You are loved. x
Won't you join me next month?
I will be hosting a monthly Widow’s Group starting March 1st. It is a free group and if any of this resonates with you because you are a widow yourself, or know of someone who is, please feel free to join me or share this information. The objective of this group is to build a community support system for widows of all walks of life navigating loss. Open discussions surrounding grief and loss, sharing experiences on our personal journeys, and resource building will be focused here. Please reach out to me for information.