Valentine’s Day Blues

Valentine’s Day: frilly cards, special gifts, an evening out!  It’s a wonderful time to celebrate if you’re in love and someone loves you back.  It’s a heartbreaking time of the year, though, if you’ve lost someone you love, to death, divorce or break-up, or if your beloved doesn’t know that you exist.

If this is what a person is facing on February 14, they can feel like they’re out of synch with the rest of humanity for those 24 hours.

How can you help a friend, colleague or family member who’s in this situation?  We’ll use both masculine and feminine pronouns below because of course both men and women experience these difficulties.

Start by making yourself available to hear what he’s thinking and feeling.  Maybe he just wants to vent about the preponderance of heart-shaped things in bakeries and stationery stores this time of year.  Or perhaps he wants to discuss the deeper feelings he has about grief, loss or unrequited love. 

Next, ask her what she’d like to do about the approach of this holiday.  Does she want to plan a get-together with close friends so that her evening will be filled or to quietly commemorate the past with a favorite book or time set aside for reflection? Would she like to use the day to venture forward with a new activity that helps her move past her grief or sadness?  Or does she feel that it’s time to make an appointment with a professional counselor or support group to gain an understanding of an old relationship or the skills to navigate a new one?

Then, ask whether you can help your friend to accomplish that goal, whether by participating with him, by helping her make a plan, or simply by encouraging friends to accomplish what’s right for them.   Your friends will be glad that you listened and understood, so that their Valentine’s Day became a good day for them.