Coping with Valentine’s Day

Just when you may be breathing a sigh of relief that the holidays are finally over, here comes Valentine’s Day. Everywhere you turn there are hearts, flowers, Cupid with his infamous arrow, and other expressions of love and romance. Cupid’s arrow may hit your heart very differently this time, however, as you are grieving the loss of your loved one.  Seeing the sea of red and pink centering around love and romance may feel especially cruel during this time regardless of how long it has been since your loss. It is a stark reminder of your love…and your loss. Love does not end when death occurs. Love endures.

Many struggle with managing their feelings of grief and loss during Valentine’s Day (and other holidays and special occasions). Intense feelings of loss and longing for your loved one and for what was can be overwhelming. Sometimes just getting through seems to be a monumental task, and it is. Grief is messy. Grief is also personal but here are some tips for what may help during this holiday:

  • Honor your feelings – Some may feel the expectation to put on a “brave face” while grieving, and even more so during the holidays. It is important to remember that it is okay to be sad. It is okay to say you are not okay. Grief does not follow a timeline.
  • Consider making a plan – Even if you change your mind, having a plan on how you may want to manage the day may help alleviate some of the feelings of anxiety and grief and help you feel more in control.
  • Commemorate your love in different ways – Write your loved one a letter. Light a candle. Consider giving a donation to a cause that your loved one found meaningful. Visit a special place either from a previous visit or somewhere they (or you) always wanted to go.
  • Indulge in a day of selfcare – Take a walk on the beach or some other nature activity. Schedule a massage or other relaxing endeavors. Spend the day doing pleasurable things whatever that looks like for you.
  • Reach out to loved ones – Though Valentine’s Day is mostly focused on romantic love, reaching out to loved ones may help alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Connect with others who are also grieving the loss of their loved one – Spending time with others who can understand and appreciate what it might be like for you can be helpful for not only you, but also them.
  • Consider creating a new ritual – Valentine’s Day is about honoring and expressing love. Even though your loved one is not physically present, you can still create a ritual that honors that love that is unique for you. Again, love endures.
  • Ignoring the day entirely – Some feel that Valentine’s Day is mostly a commercial holiday. There is some truth to that as Valentine’s Day has evolved over the many years. The commercialization of Valentine’s Day began in the 1840’s (Van Dyk, 2013), and is now one of the top three highest gift-giving/shopping days in modern times.

Whatever ways you decide to get through Valentine’s Day, please remember to give yourself grace, love, and compassion. There is grief because there is love….and love endures.


Mechelle Manista, MA, AMFT, is a doctoral intern at Alliant International University. Her chosen focus is grief and loss. Mechelle has been serving as a counselor at The Elizabeth Hospice since 2020.


Van Dyk, N. (2013). The reconceptualization of Valentine’s Day in the United States: Valentine’s Day as a phenomenon of popular culture. Bridges: An Undergraduate Journal of Contemporary Connections 1(1).