valentine’s day when you’re grieving

credit: Oscar E. It’s time for February’s made-up holiday.  Whether you celebrate or not, all that gushy pink love imagery is pretty inescapable. What happens to love on Valentine’s Day if the one you love is dead?

Though our anniversary lands on February 14th, Matt and I didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. For me, February 14th is a kids’ holiday. My mom loved any excuse to give us little presents, and Valentine’s Day was no exception. I associate it with childhood, not grown-up love. 

But since we’ve got this date assigned as special,  I’d personally like to claim February 14th not for romance, but for all love: to reach out and connect with that which we hold dear, across all the facets of our lives. To claim love wherever and whenever it can be found.

Love, not as solution, but as companion. 

In the early days of grief, there is only the roaring absence. It can be so hard to feel or find any love there at all. If someone outside your grief says, “oh, but they’re still here. They’re all around you,” well – I find that offensive, personally. Because while it may be true, an invisible partner, friend, sibling, parent, or child is not the same a living, breathing, physical one.

So we want to acknowledge that this hurts. That while there may be love, it has changed, and not in the ways we want. 


One of my teachers has a core practice of asking, in any difficulty, “is there love available here?” He doesn’t ask as an admonishment, but as a true question. Is there love available here?

I wonder if we can somehow find – access, lean on, wonder about – the love that might be available, even here. A kind of immense companionship with other grievers, with our friends or family, with the natural world, with a larger universe.

Does love arrive, somehow, in some form? 

That’s where I find myself this Valentine’s Day: wondering about love. Wondering about the kind of fierce, immense love that companions us in our grief, without trying to take it away, nor fix what can’t be fixed. 

I think love is big enough for that. I think it will show up in as many forms as it possibly can. An immense companionship. 

My wish for you this week, as always, is that love makes itself known, no matter where you are. Not as solution, but as companion. Right alongside what hurts. 

How about you? What’s this day like for you, inside your grief? Let us know in the comments.


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