Valentine's Day this year will be Kelsey Parker's first one since losing her husband Tom Parker in March last year.
The 32 year old, who recently spoke about her belief that Tom visited her as a butterfly, has been honest about Christmas being difficult and so may find another 'first' equally tough.
Bianca Neumann, Head of Bereavement at grief charity Sue Ryder, said: "The first Valentine’s Day after the death of a partner or spouse one can be a painful reminder of what you’ve lost."
Bianca shared her advice for Kelsey, who has children Aurelia, three, and Bodhi, two, and other widows on how to get through the holiday that celebrates love:
Celebrate the love you have for your friends
Valentine’s Day has evolved past just being a day for couples, we now have ‘Galentine’s Day’ and ‘Palentine’s Day’ celebrations that help people celebrate their love for their friends and family. So, on this Valentine’s Day, in the face of absence and loss, try and celebrate the love that is all around you in your friends and family.
Reflect on what your partner’s love did for you
Just because your partner is no longer with you, doesn’t mean that you can’t remember how their love made you feel. It can be painful, but it can also be a way of remembering them in a different light and focusing on the good times that made you who you are today. We don’t have to make feelings go away when someone has died; we have to explore them, gently and at our own pace.
Write them a card to tell them how you feel
Sometimes getting our feelings out on paper can help us process the complex emotions we are feeling. Writing to your loved one may feel strange, but it is a way of validating your emotions and feeling closer to your loved one, even though they’re not there with you.
Do something that you used to do with your loved one
If you want to feel closer to your loved one, you could do something that you used to do together to remember them. That might be a meal from your favourite takeaway or simply a walk you liked to do together. It might help to bring along a friend or family member too, in case you don’t want to be alone.
Know that you are not alone
You may feel like everyone in your life is celebrating with a partner but know that you are not alone in your grief. Sue Ryder’s Online Community has lots of advice from bereaved people on how to cope with these kinds of days. It’s useful knowing that there are other people whose partner has died out there who understand. Don’t hold it all in.
Ignore the day completely
If you are really struggling with the thought of Valentine’s Day, you could ignore the day completely. Take the day off work if you can, delete your social media for the day and do things that make you happy – maybe that’s baking, watching a Netflix show, going on a walk, or simply having a lazy day.
"The truth is the day will be full of different feelings," concludes Bianca. "There will be many firsts without your partner. Bereaved people often tell us that the run-up to these days is actually more exhausting than the day itself because of the bombardment we see in the media. This Valentine’s Day, remember be loving and kind to yourself."
Sue Ryder has launched a campaign to inspire the nation to be more Grief Kind. It’s easy to show the people around us that we care, yet, when someone is grieving, many people are so scared of getting it wrong that they do nothing. Sue Ryder is creating a national movement of kindness around grief which promotes open conversations about bereavement. To find out more visit sueryder.org/griefkind
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