Whether you love celebrating Valentine’s Day or would rather skip it altogether, it’s almost impossible to ignore. The red and pink shelves that fill stores and social media posts that delve into the most intimate details of a love life are inevitable and in our faces as soon as the new year rolls around.
When our loved one isn’t with us, it doesn’t matter if we adore or hate the holiday. The endless hearts and kind gestures can easily make us miss our remarkable loved ones and make it a day difficult to get through alone.
Since we know it’s difficult to turn a blind eye to the holiday of love, what if we used this day to honor our lost loved one? What if we took all of the pain it brings up and transformed it into something that makes the world a better place or celebrates a loved one in a special way?
In this post, we’re sharing ways to honor your loved one this Valentine’s Day. And yes, skipping the day altogether is a perfectly acceptable option.
If you’re lucky and still have your loved one this Valentine’s Day, you can join in and help others who have lost their loved ones by checking in and reminding them that you love them and are there to support them. And you can ensure that you appreciate all the little things and every special moment you have with your loved ones, because we never know what the future holds.
Everything is temporary and we only get this one life, so make it special and let those you love know how much you love and appreciate them.
Valentine’s Day Can Bring Up Grief & Unexpected Feelings
“I just want to get through it. I cringe when I see Feb coming up”
Any holiday after a loved one passes can be undeniably hard. Grief presents itself in a myriad of ways and holidays can, simply put, be the worst. Whether it’s days or years after a loved one passes, emotions may present themselves in mysterious ways and often when we’re least expecting it.
Just remember that it’s perfectly fine to feel whatever it is you need to feel this Valentine’s Day… cry, laugh, get angry. And if memories come up that can be too much to hold alone, joining a grief share group, phoning a friend, or practicing some extra self-love may be just what you need to get through the day.
No two people experience grief the same and your experience is unique, just like your love. There is no timetable when it comes to grief, and so it’s important to be gentle with ourselves and those around us as we enter this Valentine’s Day.
“My wife and I never really did anything on Valentine’s Day so I have no idea what I will do or how I will handle it.”
Remember that you have no obligation to what you did in the past to celebrate (or not celebrate) this holiday. Check in with yourself and remember that your loved one will always be a part of who you are. So with every passing emotion, let it be a reminder of the beautiful love you shared.
Choosing How to Get Through Valentine’s Day
There are plenty of options when it comes to what you can do to get through Valentine’s Day while grieving your remarkable loved one, and dare I say, maybe even enjoy it. You have options and a choice to make.
You may feel compelled to turn your grief into active mourning by finding something that would honor your loved one’s life, the time you spent together and the love you shared. Maybe you feel like distracting yourself from all of the chaos in order to get through the day. Or possibly, you may feel like you want to give yourself all the love you deserve. And if you want to do absolutely nothing, the option is always there. There is no right answer.
Take notice if guilt or shame for celebrating Valentine’s Day arises. If and when it does, simply remind yourself that your special person loves you and would want the best for you, which includes doing things that make you happy.
There is no wrong answer to how you spend this day, and know that whatever you do, we’ll be thinking about you and sending extra virtual hugs, for whatever that’s worth. 🤗🤗🤗
Ways to Honor a Loved One on Valentine’s Day
Your remarkable loved one lived a life that will never be forgotten. The memories, jokes, pictures, quirks, and little things will live on as you celebrate and honor their life. And the love that they poured onto you will continue to pour as you recount the words they said and the actions they took.
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” -Thomas Campbell
We asked our friends, family, customers and internet buddies how they planned to honor their loved one this Valentine’s Day and compiled a list for you to choose from. While we know not all of these will resonate with you, we hope you can get inspired to create a special ritual for your loved one.
Remarkable love is never lost and your loved one would want you to be happy. Remember this as you choose the ways in which you’ll honor them this Valentine’s Day.
Cook their favorite meal
Nothing gets us out of our head and into our senses quite like smell and taste. And sometimes cooking is the perfect amount of movement we need to feel a bit lighter.
What was their favorite meal to cook? A simple home cooked meal can help teleport your taste buds back in time and bring you closer to your loved one. Try being mindful of every bite and how it makes your body feel. Let the familiarity wash over you and leave you nourished.
Eat their favorite dessert
While we’re in the kitchen, try giving your brain a memory boost of your loved one by eating their favorite dessert. Whether you cook it yourself or buy it at the grocery store, there’s no wrong way to eat a sweet on Valentine’s Day.
As John S. Allen shares in his book The Omnivorous Mind, “Sweet foods may have more memories tied to them, because sweets tend to activate the reward centers of our brains. Those reward centers in turn can trigger the hippocampus and turn a short term happy memory of, say, eating salt water taffy at the beach into a long-term memory pulled up every time you bite into salt water taffy.”
Think of happy memories with your loved one
Try closing your eyes and remembering some of your happiest memories with your loved one. While this may feel cathartic at times, thinking of happy memories with your loved one can actually help shut down your body’s stress response, which may be active when we are going through grief.
In a 2017 study, researchers found that recalling positive memories in the face of stress acted as a restorative and protective function. If spending Valentine’s Day without your loved one is feeling stressful, you can combat the stress by simply remembering all of the wonderful times you had together.
Remembering the happy moments may bring up sadness as you miss your dear loved one. That’s okay! Let it out. Grab the tissues and have yourself a nice cry-sesh. You’ll feel better for it once you let it out.
Listen, sing or dance to their favorite music
Put on their favorite playlist or record and let yourself get lost in the memories. Sing the songs you used to sing together or just dance around the house like no one’s watching. Let the music move through you as you reconnect with your loved one.
Listening to music can help access deep emotions and memories associated with a loved one, along with many other benefits as we go through the grieving process.
Visit their resting place
“I will go to my hubby’s grave and replace the Christmas flowers with Spring ones with a heart in them.”
Making a card or flower arrangement for a loved one’s grave site or simply visiting their final resting place is an option that will help you connect to your loved one in solitude.
Maybe this quiet time visiting their final resting place where you have the opportunity to speak out loud to them becomes a tradition that keeps you connected to your loved one every Valentine’s Day.
Give to another person what you would normally receive
“I am a romantic so we always exchanged gifts. I am packing up gifts for the grandchildren now. Then I’ll go out with a few widows for dinner. I’ll give a special friend a card and a candy bar.”
Chances are that you may miss giving love on Valentine’s Day as much as you miss receiving love from your special person. Consider giving the love they’d normally give to you by giving to others in your life.
Whether it’s giving a candy bar to your family member or reaching out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while, remember that love is free to give and often helps us feel better.
Watch their favorite movie
Pick out some snacks, light a candle, and turn on their favorite movie. Maybe you even say out loud their favorite quotes during the movie. Or maybe you get curious as to why it was their favorite movie and see it in a new light.
Familiarity is so important when we’re missing our loved one. And yes, rewatching movies has it’s mental health benefits too. Going back to something we know makes us happy, especially when we know what to expect. So get comfy and press play!
Give back to something they cared about
Giving is receiving. And when you can give towards a cause that your special person cared about, you’ll feel a deeper connection to both your loved one and the cause you’re giving to.
Whether it’s volunteering to help build a home with Habitat for Humanity, or making a donation to a local park that they loved to walk through, your giving will make you and the world better.
Plant a flower, tree, herb, fruit or vegetable
Did your loved one have a favorite plant? Consider getting your hands dirty and plant a new plant or garden in their honor. Or maybe you get a new house plant to care for every day.
Not only will you be honoring your loved one through nurturing new life, you’ll also begin to feel better because of it. As Willwerschied explains…
“While grieving it is so difficult to see potential for the future. Gardening can help bring this sense of future potential to life again and you can dream while working in the dirt. The second thing I noticed was that it was a lot of hard work. The actual physical process of gardening used up a lot of energy!”
Place a photo at their dinner seat
Whether you’re alone or with family members this Valentine’s Day, consider putting a photo of your loved one at the dinner table to remember their presence and feel a connection with them.
The visual reminder will help in your journey of healing and honor your loved one. It may also bring up memories and stories that are worth sharing.
Go to their favorite place
Did your loved one enjoy hiking? Playing a round of golf? Visiting a local park? Or maybe they loved going to see a movie in the theater.
Whatever their favorite place is, consider visiting it and paying attention to the present moment. What are the sounds you hear? What do you see? What do you feel? Let the emotions move through you as you connect to their presence.
Write to them
Make it a tradition to write down all of your love and memories that come up during this Valentine’s Day. Share your concerns and what you’ve learned from them. Write down all of the things you wish you could share with them.
“Some research suggests that disclosing deep emotions through writing can boost immune function as well as mood and well-being. Conversely, the stress of holding in strong feelings can ratchet up blood pressure and heart rate, and increase muscle tension.”
According to Harvard, there are a bunch of benefits of writing to your loved one that can help you feel better and boost your immune system.
Start a new project in their honor
Whether it’s a project around the house or starting a new company, taking action specifically to honor a loved one is a great way to get moving in the right direction.
Grief can leave us paralyzed in thought and it may feel difficult to get something off the ground. That’s okay! Start small and work your way up. The key is to remember your loved one is the reason why you want to take action.
Start the process of growing a diamond
Here at Eterneva, we help people celebrate the remarkable lives of their loved ones by turning their ashes into a diamond. We get to know your loved one throughout the process and stand beside you every step of the 7-stage journey.
Seeing a diamond of your loved one daily can help you reflect on all of the light in your life that your loved one gave and continues to give you. It’s a stunning memorial option that will live on forever, just like their love.
Give yourself the love they gave you
Did you have any traditions that you and your loved one enjoyed? Instead of missing that it’s no longer there, maybe you can give exactly what they would normally give to you, to yourself.
If the tradition is too much to handle without them, then some extra self-love may be exactly what you need. Some self-love ideas to consider for yourself this Valentine’s Day include…
- Sending yourself flowers
- Taking a night off cooking and ordering in
- Cooking something new
- Soaking in a salt bath
- Taking a walk in mindfulness
- Taking a nap
- Reading a book
- Writing down what you’re grateful for (including their love)
- Giving yourself a hug (produces same feel good hormones as hugging someone)
- Schedule something your loved one inspires in you (learn how to cook, go to the gym, seek therapy, go on a grief retreat, etc… the act of scheduling something can make us feel better in and of itself)
Another Option – Distract Yourself
Maybe Valentine’s Day was something that never really fit into your relationship with your loved one, or maybe it did. Regardless, if this Valentine’s Day feels like too much to handle alone, a distraction may be something to consider.
One friend of ours mentioned that they have a widow’s club that meets every Valentine’s Day to help each other get through it. Another mentioned that after 11 years they still find something to keep them occupied so they’re busy and don’t notice it.
There is no right way to celebrate Valentine’s Day without your loved one. It is one hundred percent okay to do absolutely nothing special this Valentine’s Day and treat it just like another day.
Remarkable Love is Never Lost
No matter what you choose to do this Valentine’s Day, know that you’re not alone. The love that you and your loved one shared will never be lost and will always remain a part of you. 💞