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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