Valentine’s Day is one of those emotional landmines every widow must navigate. If your grief is fresh, it’s a heart-wrenching reminder of what you’ve lost. Later, when the initial shock and grief wears off, it can still leave you feeling wistful and empty.
Even at my stage of life – nearly four years into widowhood and purposely single – it can be a difficult day. It’s hard not to wish someone only had eyes for you. The “me against the world” approach to life gets tiresome and lonely. No matter how good your friends are, the reality is they can never fill a hole left by a spouse.
Some people will tell you to make your own, new traditions for the day, but you won’t get that from me. Heaven knows, I should have put it on my list of things to never say to a widow. While I appreciate the intention behind the comment, it always makes me want to snarl “but I shouldn’t have to” in response.
So I won’t tell you to go make new traditions today (unless you want to). In fact, I won’t tell you to do anything at all other than whatever feels right.
Valentine’s Day for Widows
However, if you need a little inspiration, I would say any of the following options are perfectly acceptable ways for widows to commemorate Valentine’s Day.
- Take a trip to the cemetery
- Open up the photo album and remember happier days
- Treat yourself to chocolates, flowers or whatever else your spouse would have bought for you
- Go out to eat at a favorite restaurant alone (only if you can stomach being surrounded by couples)
- Round up some other unattached friends and go bowling, to a movie or out to eat
- Stay off social media to avoid drowning in hearts and happy couple photos
- Write a letter to your spouse
- Hunker down with popcorn and a movie – a romance if you’re feeling sentimental, a loud action flick if you want to forget
- Pop in a movie for the kids and go sit in your room and cry
As for me, I’ve decided I’m happier ignoring Tom on holidays. It probably sounds harsh, but I won’t apologize for doing what helps get me through the day. My mom has offered to take us all to the local Chinese buffet for dinner, and I have a new book to start once the little people go to bed. Part of me wishes I had done something fun for the kids today – like tinting their milk pink or buying them chocolate hearts – but I don’t quite have it in me yet. Maybe next year.