How Rituals Can Help with Grief on Valentine’s Day

Every year around this time, we hear the following from families we talked to here in the Bronx: Special days – particularly a day focused on love and romance like Valentine’s Day – often trigger big emotions. It’s the constant reminders at every store and on every commercial break. The thoughts of what once was in the past – or what will never be in the future. For some, these memories are painful. Others find that reminiscing has a hold on them, preventing them from moving forward in their journey toward healing.

Anyone who is familiar with grief understands that some moments, some days, some weeks are harder than others. We’ve been helping our Bronx neighbors since 1863 here at Woodlawn Cemetery, and understand that memories of good times often magnify a loss, regardless of how long it has been since the death of a loved one. This year is especially weighty, given the isolation and challenges we are all experiencing.

If you’re feeling heavyhearted about the upcoming holiday, let us assure you that you are not alone. Let us also remind you that there’s no need to pretend you are okay or feel ashamed if you’d rather skip the day altogether. February 15th will be here before you know it. In the meantime, think about taking part in these rituals – or adapting to make them your own – designed to give you a sense of connectedness, healing, and peace on a day you may need it most.

Honor your loved one in a special way. 

Whether you’re grieving the death of a partner or spouse, parent or child, ask yourself, “How would they like to be remembered?” Also, think about what would bring you a sense of comfort on a day when you may feel unsettled and emotional.

This could be a physical memorial, such as purchasing flowers and visiting your loved one’s final resting place. If your loved one is laid to rest here at Woodlawn, coming to our beautiful grounds may offer more peace than you’d even imagine as you think about all this special person brought to your life. You might even take a walk to explore our 400-acre sanctuary in the city. There’s a saying that it’s impossible to walk among the trees and be in a “bad mood” at the same time. Our Arboretum features more than 375 unique tree species and strolling among them in the fresh air may be exactly what you need for a renewed perspective. You might even make this your new Valentine’s Day tradition.

Reach out to another friend or family member who may be having a hard day.

COVID-19 restrictions have changed all our lives, particularly when it comes to gathering with loved ones in person. But don’t let that stop you from communicating with those who are special to you. Pick up the phone. Plan to meet virtually. Make the effort beforehand so you have the connection you need once the 14th arrives.

Treat yourself 

Valentine’s Day is not the same without your loved one present, but it is an opportunity to indulge in some of your favorites. Book a massage, purchase a colorful bouquet or chocolates you’ve always loved. Spoil yourself!

Our staff wants to remind you that grief can feel very raw, whether you’ve recently attended a funeral for a loved one, or it’s been months or years since you said goodbye. We talk with New York families every day who are planning a memorial or committal service, burial, or cremation, and we understand the difficult and complicated emotions that come with it.

We support families any way we can during the ups and downs in life. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to us for help. We’re here for you – always.