When Valentine’s Day Is Less About Roses and Truffles – And More About Loneliness & Loss

Without a partner on whom to bestow bouquets and sweets, this Valentine’s Day could be less about roses and truffles and more about your own loneliness and loss. Here, five ways to get through the day with more grace than grief.


Valentine’s Day.

Forget the aphrodisiacs.

Bring on the antidepressants.

About one out of three Zoomers are single — whether by choice, circumstance or loss of a partner due to divorce, death or dementia.

And without a partner on whom to bestow bouquets and heart-shaped carbohydrates, this weekend could be less about roses and truffles — which it may appear to be for everyone else on the planet— and more about your own loneliness and loss.

But there are ways to get through the day with more grace than grief.

Even for those recently widowed, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be only a reminder of what’s missing.

“The first Valentine’s Day or any special day after your spouse/partner has died can seem impossible to bear,” acknowledges Aruna Ogale, executive director of Bereaved Families of Ontario-Toronto. “You may be still mourning and the thoughts of past celebrations together can cut deep, but those same memories can help you cope with the day.”

It can be an occasion to recall and celebrate the love there was. And to realize that, even though the partner is not here, the love lives on.

Other singles can also find meaning in Valentine’s Day. There’s no law that says it has to be reserved for romantic or erotic love. It’s a good opportunity to treat kids you love and people you like.

That’s what Lee Failes does on Valentine’s Day.

“I focus on my kids,” says the mother of three who were teenagers when their father died. “I get them little treats. If I ever have grandkids, it will be about them, not me.”

Failes, now in her 50’s, was widowed when her husband Mike, a labour lawyer in Toronto died of gall bladder cancer in September 2012, nine months after being diagnosed.

Until then, she says, “He was a very vibrant, full-of-life guy.”

She’s found anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas the hardest to bear.

That first Christmas was going to be pretty awful, she recalls, “So we went to New York for part of it. We’d never been there. In retrospect, it was a really nice idea. We had a good time.”

Valentine’s Day is less of a challenge for Failes.

“For Mike, it was more like a chore,” she says ruefully, “more like he had to go and get flowers.”

Still, she admits, “I might get a bit jealous if I hear my friends are getting gifts or flowers from their husband. I’ll think they’re very lucky and I might have a tinge of pity for myself.

“But then I’ll think about buying something nice for my kids — and maybe for myself, too.”

Here’s advice on how to get through Valentine’s Day from Bereaved Families of Ontario-Toronto:

1.Write your beloved a letter

Instead of trying to forget about the times you shared, embrace them. Write a letter and let him know how much you miss him, write about all those past Valentine’s Day you spent together. Slip the letter along with a couple of photos in a drawer or other safe place to read another time. Just writing out your feelings can help you cope.

2. Keep his traditions

If your spouse/partner always bought you a chocolate or flowers, buy some for yourself in his memory and enjoy them as you think of the happy memories that you and your spouse/partner shared.

3. Avoid certain places

Many couples will go out to dinner so consider avoiding restaurants or other places where couples may be going to celebrate the day.

Also, if you need to buy a birthday card for someone, perhaps this is not the weekend to buy it as seeing a store full of Valentine’s Day cards may trigger sad thoughts.

4. Make a donation

Spread love around. Why not give a donation in your spouse’s/partner’s name to a cause that your beloved held dear? Donations are a great way to memorialize someone, while also helping out a worthy charity.

5. Spend time with family

The Family Day long weekend comes a few days after Valentine’s Day this year, so share time with family and others who will understand that Valentine’s Day might be especially hard on you.