Many associate Valentine’s Day with chocolates, greeting cards, flowers, and stuffed animals. Though this holiday is a reminder to spread love to those you care about, this holiday can be exceptionally difficult for grieving families. Just like any holiday or significant date, grief thoughts and feelings can make it feel nearly impossible to self-regulate throughout the day. We asked our families to share what they think of most during this time and the impact this holiday has on their lives. Many of our families submitted input on how they approach the holiday to help support others.
Show yourself kindness and mercy. It is okay to not be okay on days like today. Commemorate the memory of my loved one. The love we feel for him will not ever go away and remembering him with an intent helps strengthen the bond we all shared with him. Make it our daily mission to help someone feel as special as he always made us feel. You would be surprised how good you feel giving the love you received to someone else unexpectedly!”
Christi Giles-Reed (Grandparent and Extended Family Loss Night)
I have always loved Valentines and it has always felt like a holiday for Brenden. Since he was born with a special heart and is usually the week that it is congenital heart awareness week. I always make sure to decorate my shadow box with a picture of Brenden and Valentines background. To put out with our decorations.”
Amanda Ward (Sibling Loss Night)
When I think of February the thing, I think about most is LOVE. We see Dr O’Malley and have read his book. One thing he talks about is writing your love story for the person you lost. Although I haven’t formally done this, it is on my list. I’m looking for the perfect journal then I’ll get started. I love the quote, where there is deep grief, there is great love.”
Lynn Miller (Sibling Loss Night)
From the words of some of our families, it is evident that there are several unique traditions and words of wisdom they follow closely in order to connect with their loved one, while also nurturing themselves and their family members. Families celebrate holidays in many ways. Just remember, traditions and advice are not one size fits all. As we approach Valentine’s Day, be kind to yourself. It takes time, nurturance, and self-love to find what feels like the most comfortable path for yourself and your family. Each holiday does not have to mirror the last, and you are allowed to continue to explore what works best. With continued exploration, you will have the opportunity to discover more about what your needs are and how to come together as a family through these significant, yet difficult days.