Thoughts on Valentine's Day Grief

General / General : Eleanor Haley

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Look at me thinking I should write about love. When countless poets and writers, eons better at describing it, have already said more than enough. But, you know, it's almost Valentine's Day, 'loves' national holiday, so it's top of the mind. And I've been thinking about Valentine's Day Grief and the space our readers, who are, for the most part, grieving people, might claim on the day. 

Many grieving people feel alienated by Valentine's Day, either because they've lost someone they love or because celebrating the day is a tonal switch their hearts can't maneuver. It's somewhat ironic, though, because grieving people are often loving as hard, if not harder than they’ve ever loved before; it just so happens that the object of their love is gone in some way, shape, or form.

Remember, grief is often an expression of love

We keep trying to convince people that, although it feels wretched, grief is often an expression of love. I realize this is hard to wrap one's head around because love feels desirable, and grief is a hot potato no one wants. But this is looking at both love and grief in a one-dimensional way. 

Though love has a favorable reputation, the experience doesn't exist only on the positive end of the emotional spectrum. You can quickly fall into love and, for a moment, it feels only good. But over time, it becomes a complex and messy thing filled with a wide range of pleasant and painful experiences.

Loving someone is a mixed bag because, as the founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Steven Hayes, said, "You hurt where you care, and you care where you hurt." And though I personally work hard most day not to admit it, loss, which is the ultimate hurt, is inherent to the experience of love.

When we lose someone we deeply care about; we experience an anguished side of love that we express through grief. And just like love, grief comes on fast and intense before leveling off and settling into the fabric of your day-to-day. Also, just like love, grief feels all one way at first (bad) before becoming more nuanced and complex over time.

Grief is obviously a source of great pain for those who experience it. And even years after the loss, the tiniest little ripple - a small stone carelessly thrown into a still pond - can churn up a tsunami of grief. Yet, painful as it may be, it's difficult to imagine wanting to live without grief because of the love parts of it—the connections, comforting memories, and yearning you will always feel as long as you love someone who's gone. 

What to do about Valentine's Day Grief

What should grieving people do about Valentine's Day? The answer depends. If you can't or don't want to ignore the day, but struggle to face the hearts and happiness of it all, that's okay. You don't have to buck up or see the bright side if you don't want to because love isn't all bright side. Grieving your loved one, and feeling sad that you can't physically show them love on Valentine's Day, is an expression of love. 

On the other hand, you don't have to give up the things you used to love about Valentine's Day simply because your loved one died. You don't have to stop doing the mushy stuff or outwardly showing love for the person you're grieving. Obviously, it has to take a new form, but if you want to buy them a Valentine or post about them on social media or write them a letter, you can and should do all those things.  

We've written a some practical and creative articles about Valentine's Day Grief. For further support, try the following articles:

You may also wish to visit Grief in Six words to read 6-word stories, both about Valentine's Day grief and regular old grief.

We wrote a book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

Let’s be grief friends.

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10 Comments on "Thoughts on Valentine's Day Grief"

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  1. Cherie  February 15, 2022 at 5:39 pm Reply

    Having a commercial holiday for a birthday can be hard. Having it as a traumatically deceased loved one’s birthday is awful & invasive. I became inured to the card & candy displays a while back. All the texts, e-mails & posts are overwhelming though. It’s like getting randomly battered by your culture. The only solution I’ve found is extreme isolation & media blackout for about a 3-5 days either side of it. (And that is not especially safe when you have elderly, disabled parents.) If anyone has any other suggestions, I’d certainly appreciate it.

  2. Brigitte  February 12, 2022 at 2:16 pm Reply

    The physical experience of over the top anxiety or distress [physically felt] or dread that comes over my friend and many others is hard to cope with; any suggestions?

    • Carm  February 14, 2022 at 11:44 am Reply

      This is 8 yrs today that I’ve lost my husband. My first since I retired in May 2021. And am keeping the tears at bay and letting them flow when I want. I have sought counseling as well as following the WYG ladies since 02/14/2014. It all helps. I love their online grief photography course and the journaling one as well. 🙏🏼💔

  3. Carm  February 12, 2022 at 8:48 am Reply

    Heartbreaking sadness today; tomorrow brings tomorrow

  4. Levi's Mom  February 12, 2022 at 7:43 am Reply

    I shared your blog post on FB with this comment:
    This article states: “And even years after the loss, the tiniest little ripple – a small stone carelessly thrown into a still pond – can churn up a tsunami of grief.”
    One of Levi’s friends from the arts school [whose mascot is the Phoenix] made this comment at her service: “The Dalai Lama once quoted, “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”
    Levi was the pebble for us. She created ripples that have brought us all back together; she has shown us the true meaning of friendship and family. She created ripples in her time on this earth. She touched the lives of so many people. She brought so many people together with her beautiful words and warming embrace. Even now, she still creates ripples. Her loving, warm embrace and the beauty of the words she wrote will never go away. Today, that’s why we tell our Phoenix Levi to fly high, for a Phoenix never dies.”
    That’s my kid. Throwing pebbles, creating ripples, making waves, flying high.

  5. Mickey Johnson  February 12, 2022 at 7:10 am Reply

    I have no idea how I started getting your posts, but I’m really glad I did. Life has been so difficult for so many these days that I’ve finally had to seek spiritual and mental health support. Your posts have become a valuable addition to that support.

  6. Betty Pepper-Bolyard  February 12, 2022 at 6:22 am Reply

    You have no idea how much this has helped me

  7. Janak Gupta  February 12, 2022 at 5:50 am Reply

    On several occasions I miss my wife Anjali, whom I lost untimely to Covid19 in April,2021. She was so caring and loving in nature who was enthused with every celebrations we had. Dining out, shopping, watching a movie and travelling were her favorites. She was my shadow always with me everywhere, every time. I turn around and search her but get disappointed all the time not finding her. But life goes on and this old world keep on turning.

  8. Alec Caldwell  February 12, 2022 at 5:09 am Reply

    Recently lost my mother, July 11 2021. It has been a nightmare of grief since that day. Someday much worse then others..

    • Annemarie Wheeler  February 15, 2022 at 8:01 am Reply

      Hello Alec: I recently lost my mom January 17, 2022. She passed from a long battle with COPD. I am so devastated from her passing and I am super sensitive. I am struggling as my siblings and I were there at her home with Hospice which I didn’t understand about because we never had to use them. She passed away in 3 days after coming home from the hospital after having her last severe exacerbation. This was her idea as there was no more treatments left. I was with her everyday. My siblings live out of state. One thing that makes me feel better is she left me notes around saying how much she appreciates me, loves me, etc. She left them a little scraps of paper. I can’t wait to be with her again.



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