Tips on coping with Valentine's Day when you've been widowed young

February 2021

Valentine’s Day is tough when you’ve been widowed. So in the run up to 14 February this year, we asked our members to share their tips on how they have coped with this difficult date.

Sarah – I’ve spoiled other people with some love instead – my kids last year; might be my parents this year; the friends I have who have been there when others drifted; and the ones I know who also struggle or are on their own. I can still give out love, I have plenty. And I can love myself too, with ten minutes to myself (here's hoping!) or, chocolate.... because if I was worthy of his love, I’m worthy of my own. But my main tip is stay off social media if this is a tough day for you. Don’t make yourself feel worse by seeing what others still have when your loss hurts, and try to do something nice for yourself in the time you would have been scrolling.

Rebecca – Feel free to buy yourself really nice presents. If you are going to miss your partner making you feel special – then remember that you are still special and still deserve something lovely.

Trudy – I usually buy myself flowers as Sam always did, so he’d approve. I’ll probably take some flowers to his grave too. I once took myself out for dinner on Valentine’s evening. I could see people looking and wondering. But I didn’t care!

Elsa – One year when I was single and hating on Valentine’s Day, I sent my two grandparents (both bereaved on each side) a dozen red roses and a card that said, ‘’When you don’t have a Valentine, you can still send flowers to someone you love.” They both cried and literally talked about it for years. It made me feel so good I forgot that I was all alone! So that’s my tip. Find something to give back to those even less fortunate than you and watch their heart smile. It is very healing.

Mims – As much chocolate as your body can possibly contain, and then a little bit more!

Sarah – We light a candle and I give some Valentine’s chocolates for our sons.

Amy – I now see Valentine’s Day as a day to remember the love we had and will forever hold in my heart. My son and I will make a card to put in Daddy’s memory box. I will also cook his favourite meal and buy a few boxes of chocolate to enjoy.

Sabine – We can still remember and celebrate the love we shared in other ways by connecting with our partner on the day – in whatever way feels right for us.

Martin – After we got married, we didn't do an awful lot for Valentine’s day as saw our wedding anniversary as our day to celebrate. We would r normally go to a favourite pub for a couple. So will have a drink or two for Sarah.

Rebecca – I decided last year to celebrate the love of friendship so my friend and I went out to dinner and to a show. In future years I’d love to get a group of friends together and go out for dinner rather than it all be couples.

Cath – We didn't bother with Valentine’s Day much but now I’m widowed, I use the day to reflect on and think about love in all its different forms. I celebrate our love. I think about friendships, my cats, the music I love as well. I did a bit of writing about love last year. Valentine’s Day isn’t just about romantic love, it doesn’t have to be couples focussed. The chocolates and flowers element isn’t important.

Laura – Love isn’t just about couples and over the years I’ve celebrated with my daughter. We might have a little pamper evening this year and I think self-love is equally as important, especially when you no longer have that someone there to spoil. Spoil yourself!

Donna – Last year was my first. I bought flowers for Dar, and then my lovely boys came home with some. I just look at it as something to get through, the build-up is always worse for me than the actual day, I find that with all special days.

Claire – I think you just need to be kind to yourself and, if you feel overwhelmed, make space and time to acknowledge the sadness and validate it. It’s OK to feel sad.

Steven – Take each day as it comes. Bad day, good day, indifferent day just try your best to ride the waves. Never feel guilty about your feelings and let your feelings flow.

Sue – Bill died on Valentine’s Day. I usually just stay at home and have a duvet day. Definitely no rom-coms either!

Natalie – The first one I got a card for him and cried, after that I started buying myself all the nice stuff. I got myself some teddies and chocolate ladybugs and love-hearts and two boxes of chocolates so far this year, oh, and some sexy underwear because I wanted it. Me and my friend make a big joke of buying ourselves loads of stuff because we love ourselves and it is a good excuse to treat ourselves. We do it at Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter, birthdays – any excuse to treat ourselves because who else is going to? It is still hard but I can wear sexy underwear, eat chocolate and cry to my new teddies because that is my right as a widow!

Diane – We never made Valentine’s Day a big thing. My first Valentine’s Day without him I got him a card and put it up at home and went to the crem with some roses and lit a candle to celebrate the love we shared for 31 years together.

Paula – Steve proposed on Valentine’s Day and we always used to go out and he’d buy flowers. Now I always buy myself flowers at least once a month (as he’s not here to do so) and I normally do special heart shaped pancakes, strawberries and chocolates for the kids plus make them all a card. I still find it hard though and sad.

Lucy – Someone once said their parents always sent them a Valentine’s card so that when they became teenagers, they never felt sad if they didn’t get one. I love this! So made the day into the day of love. My kids have to tell someone they love them – and I make the day all about how much I love them.

Emma – Last year (my first one without Roy), we ran a Valentine’s rose delivery service at my school. It was billed as sending a sign of thanks to valued people among both the staff & student body. It raised a bunch of cash for charity (& I got a few roses too, so didn’t feel so completely alone).

Look out for more tips on our social media platforms @widowedandyoung

Valentine's Day graphic