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February 7, 2019

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February 7, 2019

What to Do About Valentine’s Day?

February 7, 2019
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Valentine’s Day—while not the sinkhole that Thanksgiving and Christmas, birthday and anniversary are—is still a day for widows to approach with caution and plan in advance. Or a day to stay home, order in a pizza and binge-watch old movies on Netflix.

As Laura Amendola blogged in “Finding Your Path in the Month of Love”:

“Sometimes seeing red hearts and cupids in the store windows hurts. Sometimes witnessing the special smiles that couples share is painful. Sometimes the reminders of love deepen your grief. For some, this will be the first Valentine’s Day since your Valentine died. February is the month of Love, but it can be difficult if you are grieving.”

After five Valentine’s without my valentine, I treat the day routinely. More of my friends are widows now than still married. All of my world is not couples.

Still, I was not prepared that first year when I received an invitation from good friends to a dinner party to celebrate love on February 14. The last place in the world I wanted to be was at a dinner with couples celebrating love. When I called to decline, my friend tried to reassure me. They had invited all their single friends to dinner. That frightened me more. I was definitely not ready to meet single men.

Instead, I called a handful of single women to come over for an “un-Valentine party.” I covered my large coffee table with hearty snacks and served good wine while we watched a comedy about a woman of a certain age—Meryl Streep in “It’s Complicated,” I think.

Later, I realized that my friends who invited me to dinner acted out of kindness and thoughtfulness. Theirs was a second marriage, and they wanted their single friends to find love after loss. Many widowed people date within a year. The problem was mine, not theirs.

A few years later, one of my widowed friends joined me in Dallas for a Valentine’s weekend of opera and symphony. I made last-minute dinner reservations at a popular casual steakhouse. Because nothing on the website indicated any special Valentine’s meal and a table was available, I assumed nothing special was going on there. Wrong. We arrived at a restaurant with pink and red balloons, roses, champagne. And COUPLES. Nothing but couples. As the evening went on, I realized that the wait staff thought we were a couple. At the end of the meal, my friend—much more petite than I—was presented with a rose. I wasn’t. She was assisted getting into the car. I wasn’t. Lesson learned: Valentine’s is not a time to go out to a nice restaurant for dinner with a friend.

Amendola—who writes a helpful blog, Wealthcare4Widows, and tweets on Twitter—suggests positive ways for new widows to grieve on Valentine’s that you may want to check out. As for me, I’ll take a large, thin-and-crispy, pepperoni pizza, home delivery please.

How will you spend your Valentine’s?


Originally published February 5, 2016



  1. Great post. I’m trying to put my own Valentines Day post together. It is a difficult day. I too plan to stay home, red wine and pizza. And my boyfriend. Unless we go to a steam punk thing he wanted to check out, And I will miss my George who did make the day a big thing out of the day with roses, a gift, pink champagne. Which means he made a big thing out of me. And I will tell myself to be grateful to be alive and healthy and with someone I have good times with. And hopefully I actually will be.

    1. Debbie, so sorry I didn’t respond promptly. I was sick when you wrote and then out of town on Valentine’s. That actually turned out pretty well. I was with different groups of friends all day and then for dinner, completely oblivious to the fact that it was February 14. I do hope your evening was okay. Sometimes that’s the best we can hope for, isn’t it? The good news is, it will get better. The bad news is, it takes so much longer than we could possibly have guessed.

  2. Ella,

    Thank you for the kind mention of my article here in your blog.

    It’s interesting, before modern “Anglo-American” customs heavily connected the day with “romantic love,” European folk traditions connected Saint Valentine with the advent of spring. An old proverb says that “Saint Valentine brings the keys of roots” meaning, “plants and flowers start to grow on this day”. It was celebrated as the day when the first work in the vineyards and the fields would begin. That seems to parallel with the “new roots” a widow is perhaps beginning to cultivate in her life?

    So I think you hit on something quite powerful in your article as well – choosing to be proactive. “Approach with caution and plan in advance” is great advice. Perhaps by looking at what she values, a widow can decide how to “cultivate self-love” for her heart on Valentine’s Day by planning ahead. Thus, “planting new roots” of meaningful joy and aliveness as you did by sharing the time with your friends – coming together to support each other as “singles” with food, fun, and humor (“It’s Complicated” – perfect choice!)

    Thank you for capturing your thoughts and sharing them with others in your blog. They are lovely and inspirational.

    Laura Amendola
    Founder, Wealthcare4Widows®

    1. Thank you, Laura. It was only by trial and error–and after falling into lots of sinkholes–that I learned to plan ahead. Planning serves two functions–it gives you something to anticipate and it protects you from reacting badly to someone else. You keep control.

  3. Thanks for bringing Valentine’s Day to my attention with the beautiful photo. Believe it or not, it hasn’t been on my radar, but now I see the topic popping up everywhere. I love your Valentine’s Dinner with a friend and the assumptions made. I’ll happily ignore Valentine’s Day the way my husband and I always did after our second son was born on Valentine’s Day. I might feel a touch of sorrow–like other days. A glass of red wine sounds like the best idea.

    1. Elaine, thanks for your thoughtful response. We didn’t make a big deal of Valentine either. We exchanged cards, and maybe he brought home candy or sent red roses. I wasn’t prepared for those encounters as a new widow. Yes, I will have wine with my pizza 🙂

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