The Pain of Valentine’s Day

Today is one of those Hallmark holidays, celebrating love and romance and happy couples. There is an entire segment of the population, however, for whom this “holiday” is like nails on a blackboard, a cruel reminder that it doesn’t include them.

I’m referring to those whose partners have died.

If the loss is recent and you are still in the acute stage of grief, give yourself permission to be sad, miserable, lonely…whatever feelings come up. Be compassionate and patient with yourself. Don’t let your friends pressure you into faking happiness. Get into your bathrobe, put on some movie that will make you bawl your eyes out, and eat that pint of Rocky Road. Or not. This is your loss and your grief and you get to decide how it’s going to look, especially today.

It helps to have a plan, to gather friends around you if that’s what feels right and supportive. Do something with them, or on your own, that honors your beloved’s memory. Even lighting a candle and having a moment of silent remembrance – can feel connecting.

If you and your partner had children together, share romantic, age-appropriate stories with them about how you met, or your courtship or wedding day, or a fun experience you shared…something to remind them of you as a couple. This models for them that although people we love may die, the love lives on.

If you’re up for it, treat yourself to a special dinner. If you’re a woman, go out for a Galentine’s dinner with your “gal pals.” Buy yourself flowers and chocolates. Take yourself to the movies. Dress up and take a spin on a dance floor. You deserve a “holiday” too.

You don’t have to be part of a couple – today or any day – to savor what life has to offer. That’s just advertising and marketing messing with your head. Being part of a couple again may be in your future, and may not be. In the meantime, you know (better than most) that life is short. It can all change in an instant. So – when you’re ready (and maybe that’s today!) – get out there and enjoy every exquisite moment.

woman jump on body of water
Photo by Tim Mossholder on


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