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Celebrating Valentine’s Day After a Loss

Older couple celebrating love after loss

While Valentine’s Day is intended to be a holiday for spouses and couples to celebrate their relationship, the day can be a painful reminder for seniors who have lost a spouse. Brightview Senior Living has some tips and suggestions for adult children helping loved ones find ways to celebrate and remember on this day of love.

Acknowledge the loss

One of the most important factors for helping someone in grief is acknowledging their loss. Affirm to your parent that their relationship was, and continues to be, significant. Validate your parent’s feelings, no matter how much time has passed since the death.

Encourage your loved one to attend a support group where they can process their grief with others. Your whole family may benefit from a grief meeting after losing a parent/grandparent. Make it a comforting, relaxed experience, complete with decadent treats. Limit serving caffeine or alcohol, both of which can heighten emotions in this safe space.

Valentine’s Day activity ideas

To acknowledge the holiday, work with your parent to plan an event that honors their spouse or partner. Here are a few simple, meaningful ideas:

  • Gather photos from their life and ask your parent for advice on what made their love special or their relationship last. Then, create a cherished book displaying their memories and advice.
  • Complete a “smooth” and “rough” exercise. Have your parent or loved one hold a seashell in one hand and a polished rock in another. Have them tell you what is going right or smooth and what is currently rough or difficult. This exercise can be done with other family members or close friends.
  • Help your loved one get in touch with their creative side. Set up a canvas for painting while listening to songs that remind the person of their relationship. Another idea is to paint rocks and create a memory garden that your parent can interact with every day.
  • Find a poem or short story about loss and use it as a conversation starter. If your parent likes to express themselves through writing, encourage them to write a poem, short story, or letter to their spouse.
Celebrating other relationships

Remind your parent that love is an all-encompassing emotion, and romantic love is only one form of love. Family relationships, pets, and friends all can and should, be celebrated. Help your loved one recognize all the loving relationships with a fun celebration:

  • Take your parent out for dinner to their favorite restaurant. Spend the time talking about some of your favorite memories.
  • Help your parent organize a special day for their friends. Mom and her friends can enjoy a fun spa day with manicures, followed by a tea party. Dad and his buddies can hit lanes for an afternoon of fun at the bowling alley before going out to dinner.
  • Let the little ones in your loved one’s life plan a Valentine’s Day celebration. Whether they spend an afternoon making cupcakes with grandma or finishing a puzzle with grandpa, your parent will cherish the memories made.

Holidays often bring up memories and strong emotions for our loved ones who have gone through a loss. When sadness or grief manifest, help your parent feel their feelings instead of trying to fix them. Once they acknowledge their sadness or loss, you can help them celebrate the strong relationships they currently enjoy.

Brightview Senior Living builds, owns, and operates award-winning vibrant senior living communities in eight states along the East Coast: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. We offer senior Independent LivingAssisted LivingEnhanced Care, and Wellspring Village®, a specialized neighborhood for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Schedule a personal visit to experience our communities firsthand.


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