It’s here. Valentine’s Day. Chocolate, flowers, hearts, and Cupid are everywhere.  The ideals and joys of romantic love are touted at every turn. For those in secure loving relationships it is a day set aside to celebrate your love for each other. For those in the midst of or following a divorce, just walking into a store at the beginning of February can be a reminder of what we have lost, don’t have or what we wish we did.

Loneliness and grieving the loss of a marriage is a daily experience for those going through a divorce. Valentine’s Day often serves to shine a spotlight on those feelings and, just to up the ante, add to them the mistaken (but mass marketed) belief that everyone else is happy and in love. Often times the divorce was preceded by years of sadness, loneliness and unmet expectations on holidays like Valentine’s Day. Sometimes we think about the past disappointments and use them as a way to reinforce how unloved and alone we can feel. Why not crawl under the covers and forget the whole thing? Or…. Why not give ourselves the love we deserve and give Valentine’s Day new meaning?

Alternative ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day:

  • Treat yourself!  No matter how big or small …. Buy your favorite candy, flowers, get a massage, get those fabulous shoes you’ve had your eye on. Take this opportunity to treat yourself like you want to be treated!
  • If you have kids, make the day special for them.  A special meal, special “I love you notes” hidden in their lunch box,  going out to a fun dinner or going to see a movie…Whatever your family favorites, do something fun and special to show love to your family!
  • Do something for someone in need.  Helping others can make us feel good and distract us from our own situation. Although it can feel like everyone has a “special someone” on Valentine’s Day, there are many people alone and hurting. Maybe you have a friend, neighbor, a family member or senior you know that could use a pick me up. Find a simple card, time for a quick “I’m thinking of you” call, or another way of showing you care.
  • Get together with friends.  Meet for a fun dinner or have a friend/friends over for takeout and a movie. No matter what you do, be with people you like and your expectations will match your reality this Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day that magnifies the loneliness and loss of a marriage. This year use Valentine’s Day to shine the spotlight on loving yourself and the meaningful people in your life. Does it take away the loneliness and loss of divorce? No, but it can make a day you might like to forget altogether, into a day you take the time to appreciate and love yourself. In the process you might create new memories, new traditions and give Valentine’s Day new meaning.