Valentine’s Day is often referred to the day of love, expressed with flowers, cards, special dinners and an abundance of red. The origin is from Western Christianity marked as a day honoring saints named Valentinus. In modern times, the holiday is a commercial celebration of love extending past romantic couples, celebrated by families and friends as a day of special love and giving. For the fortunate, the day is met with flowers, chocolates, special dinners, exchanging of valentines and terms of endearment.
What about the people whose “Valentine” has passed away? For many, the anticipation of Valentine’s Day becomes one of pain, loneliness and a feeling of envy. Let’s change that perception. How? By continuing to celebrate the day of love with your loved one in a special and meaningful way.
The death of a spouse, child, sibling, special friend and even pet is a type of loss many people could never comprehend unless they have experienced a similar loss. Although the person who is grieving the loss of a loved one experiences the void in their life on a daily basis, the hollowness is magnified during holidays, life milestones, birthdays and anniversaries.
Valentine’s Day is this week and the best way to remain connected to your loved one is to embrace the holiday and feel the love through memories and thoughtful gestures.
Here are 14 ideas to celebrate love:
- Dine together – Cook their favorite meal. Enjoy the day by shopping for the ingredients, listening to their favorite music and savoring the smells of the food. Or dine at their favorite restaurant, sit at their favorite table and order the meal that they would have ordered. Don’t forget dessert.
- Plan a special day – Start the day with their favorite breakfast, visit your place of connection, attend a movie they would love, eat at their favorite restaurant, visit their special museum, or partake in their desired activity. Take along a picture to experience the day together.
- Create a memory book with your favorite memories – Share the story of your loved one’s life through pictures, experiences and stories. Start with birth and include all major life milestones. Begin by interviewing family members, school mates and neighbors.
- Visit their resting spot – Whether your special place is a cemetery or a memorable location, visit your loved one and be sure to bring flowers, share chocolate, have a glass of wine and enjoy a chat together.
- Create a memorial – Consider creating a special memento or a unique place to visit expressing the love and the loss.
- Enjoy your special song – Play it over and over again while singing along, cherishing the memories of the song and all the times you listened to it together.
- Accomplish an item on your loved one’s bucket list – Make a list of all the goals and experiences that were not accomplished. Create a timeline and “just do it.”
- Celebrate with children – There is something special about sharing the love with children. “Adopt” a young family member, neighbor or classroom. Bake fun treats, help them decorate their valentine boxes and participate in a school event.
- Write a letter to your loved one – Share your memories, your personal journey of loss and express all the thoughts of your relationship, time together and the love you shared.
- Donate to a charity in their honor – For many, a way to feel connected to their love one is to support an organization or cause related to an illness, life desire or a connection to family. Consider contributing in memory of the life that was lost.
- Volunteer at a school, charity or dependent care facility – Share the love of the day by volunteering your time by giving to others. The love will warm your soul.
- Surround yourself with those closest to your loved one – Sometimes you just need to feel loved and spending the day being showered with love, understanding and being connected can provide you just what you need.
- Enjoy a “me” day – How would you describe your perfect “me” day? Maybe accomplishing a few of the items above or just pamper yourself while grieving the loss of someone very special.
- Cherish the memories with your Saint Valentinus and the love you shared.
Rachel Kodanaz is an author, speaker and consultant who provides encouragement to those who are suffering a loss or setback. She is the author of Living with Loss, One Day at a Time, available at www.rachelkodanaz.com or www.amazon.com.