Coping with grief on Valentine’s Day

For many, Valentine’s Day is a time to express their love for one another and spend time together. But for those who’ve lost their significant other, Valentine’s Day can be an especially painful time.

The Valentine’s theme is found everywhere from shops to social media and television. It’s hard to avoid, but there are ways to get through it. Here’s our guide to coping with loss on Valentine’s Day.

Give yourself permission to feel sad

Grieving is highly personal. How you do it depends on you – especially on days like Valentine’s Day, which can remind you of your loved one. The important thing is that you allow yourself to do what feels right – whether that’s embracing your feelings of sadness or enjoying the day in your loved one’s honour. Whichever way you decide to mark the occasion, or if you decide to ignore it altogether, how you spend the day should depend on what is right for you.

Talk to someone

Valentine’s Day can be an isolating and lonely time if you’ve recently lost someone. But remember, you are not alone. 14 February is a date that sparks feelings of anxiousness in many people who’ve lost loved ones. Speaking to friends and family about how you’re feeling may help, while some find it easier to talk to someone impartial like a counsellor or a support group.

Do whatever is right for you

Over the years, it’s common for couples to develop Valentine’s Day traditions. Continuing these can seem a fitting way to mark the occasion, but keeping these traditions could make you feel their absence even more, which could intensify your feelings of sadness.

Why not consider starting an alternative tradition? Something you can do in memory of your loved one every year. It could be anything from reminiscing over photos to cooking their favourite meal and enjoying it with family and friends.

If you prefer something a little more creative, you could write a poem or create a piece of art that expresses your feelings. This is a great way to divert your attention and occupy your mind.

You could even just do nothing. Book the day off work and have a peaceful day at home. With no pressure to do anything or see anyone, this can be your time to rest and relax.

Put your wellbeing first

If you choose to go out and do something – whether it’s dinner with friends or another activity – you shouldn’t feel pressured to be upbeat and sociable. Grieving is always difficult, and even little things can have an emotional impact.

You may wish to take the day off to do something for yourself like going for a walk somewhere, going to the cinema with a friend or whatever else you choose.

Avoid social media

You may wish to avoid your social media channels completely on Valentine’s Day. Seeing pictures of happy couples, flowers, engagements, etc. can trigger feelings of sadness, and be quite overwhelming.

Spend time with your loved ones

Valentine’s Day can exacerbate feelings of isolation and loneliness. The day has now been transformed into a celebration of romantic love but this, of course, doesn’t have to be the case. Plan to spend time with your closest friends or family, celebrating the love that is around you today. Doing activities to take your mind off the loss of a loved one will help with the grieving process. Taking the time to do what you want with Valentine’s Day is a great recourse to what can be an upsetting occasion.

Be your own valentine

This is a day when it’s important to practice self-love and to be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel a full range of emotions without shame. Accept that Valentine’s Day will bring many different feelings that you can’t control and give yourself space to process your emotions.

For more support following the death of a loved one, there are many organisations that can help. Find out more about bereavement support.