There’s no proper way to prepare for the loss of a loved one. Whether you knew they were sick, or it was a shocking accident; whether you have children to grieve with, or not; whether you were together for 5 years, or 50—the pain of loss can be devastating. There are many new hurdles and experiences to get through once you’ve lost your life partner, and not all of them are easy.
The first Valentine’s Day after the death of a spouse can be especially hard since the day is dedicated to couples and nearly impossible to avoid. While celebrating Valentine’s Day alone might be a shock after spending so many years with a spouse, there are ways that you can get through it to help combat the feelings of loneliness and grief.
Getting Through The First Valentine’s Day After The Death of A Spouse
For some couples, Valentine’s Day is important and celebrated, and for others, it seems meaningless. But even if it felt meaningless when you were sharing your life with a partner, when they are no longer around to share the day with you it can trigger a host of emotions about having to spend it alone. But celebrating Valentine’s Day alone for the first time can actually open the door to creating new happy traditions.
Here are some of the positive ways you can get through the first Valentine’s Day after the death of a spouse:
Have Dinner With Friends. Start a new tradition this year by hosting a dinner with friends, either at home or a local restaurant. It’s a great way to reframe the holiday from being about romantic love to being more about friendship and connection. And there’s no need to think of it as a bereavement group necessarily; you can invite more than just widows or widowers and include single people or those who have experienced divorce.
Treat Yourself to Something Special. If Valentine’s Day was once about indulging in something romantic with your partner, shift your focus to indulge in something for yourself. Self-care is an important part of the grieving process and most likely something that you desperately need. Choose to stay at home and do something restorative for yourself, or book a massage appointment at a spa, check yourself into a nice hotel, or even take yourself on a trip that you wouldn’t otherwise take.
Volunteer Your Time. Helping those less fortunate than ourselves can not only put some of your own struggles in perspective, but it can also make you feel good. Research has shown that there are many benefits to volunteering as a senior, including feeling a greater sense of purpose, lower feelings of depression or loneliness, and even lower blood pressure.
Make A Date With Your Grandchildren. While Valentine’s Day is often thought of primarily as an adult holiday, it can be fun to include children in the celebration with you. Plan a kid-friendly Valentine’s Day party for your grandchildren and start a new holiday tradition for your family.
Honor Your Lost Love. Death doesn’t only have to bring sadness that a life was ended, it can also bring joy to remember how their life was lived. Just because you may be celebrating Valentine’s Day alone this year, there’s no reason why you can’t choose to spend it honoring the love that you lost. Remember them in your own special way: go out for a meal they would have loved or cook their favorite foods at home; watch their favorite movie; plant a tree in their memory; light a candle for them; there’s no right way to celebrate the love of your life.
Moving Past Valentine’s Day and Grief
Once this difficult day has passed, you will most likely still be struggling with the grief you feel from losing a loved one. There is no timeline for how to get over a loss of that magnitude, so don’t feel pressure to stop experiencing complicated emotions within a few weeks, or months, or even years.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day alone is a first step towards accomplishing more on your own as a widow/er. If you’re concerned about your health or safety because you’re living alone, Medical Guardian provides a wide range of solutions to help keep you protected and connected to help in an emergency, so you won’t have to worry.