For those of us who’ve experienced loss, we know all too well that grief comes in waves. And significant dates and holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, can cause grief to surge back along with the memories of a loved one. It doesn’t matter if it’s the very first Valentine’s without a loved one or the 10th, the feelings and memories — and unfortunately, the heartache — don’t diminish.
But remember, you are not alone. While the death of a spouse or significant other is unimaginable for most, there are others who’ve had similar experiences. Below we’ve compiled some inspiring stories that contain messages of hope and ways to cope with such a significant loss. Feel free to share these articles with someone you know who might be needing it this Valentine’s Day.
The Widowhood Effect: What it’s like to lose a spouse in your 30s by Christina Frangou
Christina Frangou shares her experience of losing her husband, Spencer, to cancer at the young age of 36. As a young widow, she talks about the moments leading up to her husband’s passing, her experience planning the funeral, and her hike to the top of Polar Peak, the highest mountain in Spencer’s hometown, where three years after his passing, she spread his ashes.
Highlight: “I longed for traditions for mourning to give my private grief a public face. But there are no traditions for how a North American woman in the 21st century mourns her partner. For the grief-stricken, we’ve no identifying adornment to alert the world – no sad equivalent of a wedding ring.”
When Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, lost her husband unexpectedly, she chose to share her whole experience in a candid Facebook post. The post received more than 900,000 likes and was shared more than 400,000 times. Her experience and opening up about her grief inspired her to write the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, her guide for helping others grieve.
Highlight: “I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well. But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.”
My First Year as a Widower by Saul Schwartz
Widower Saul opens up about losing his wife of 30 years, Cheryl, to cancer. He also talks about what it’s like to return to work, raise children, and his advice for anyone else who has felt the pain of losing a spouse.
Highlight: “The first month after she died, I would burst into tears in the car when reflecting on Cheryl’s death or on the future we would unexpectedly not share. I felt so utterly alone, it was almost eerie after being a partner for so many years. I could not believe I’d never see her auburn hair or hear her hearty laugh again.”
Why There is No Such Thing as ‘Getting Over’ Your Spouse’s Death by Carole Brody Fleet
The author and widow Carole Brody Fleet shares her sound advice in this article. Although there is no getting over it, there are other ways to find happiness again. Here she shares her guidance on how to navigate your own healing journey.
Highlight: “Quit worrying about being ‘over it’ and quit worrying about the people who are telling you that you should be ‘over it’. Embrace that you are not ever going to be ‘over it’; that you are instead going to move forward from the experience that was losing your beloved spouse and that you are going to do so in your way and in your time.”
Make sure to check out our list of 10 ways to honor the memory of a loved one this Valentine’s Day!