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It is a day that revolves around love. Celebrating it, showing it, experiencing it. I wrote on my Instagram this week how even though this will be my second Valentine’s Day since my husband passed, this is the first year I can really comprehend it. The holiday itself doesn’t make me overwhelmingly sad because we never celebrated it in a big way, it is more a reminder of the absence of love. A gut punch of what I wish I still had. And for some, it is excruciating.
Had I not gone through this devastating loss, I wouldn’t have been able to relate as well to the single person. Grief has a way of blessing you with intense empathy for others that have walked a similar and difficult path. I didn’t realize (and honestly you can’t until you are in this position) just how difficult and complicated the life of a widow is. I didn’t put enough thought or effort into helping them prior to losing my husband. So my hope is to give some sort of guide or encouragement to help those who are hurting so much, and how our love can lift them out of a cloud of grief, or help them on days that hurt a little extra. We can’t heal the pain, but we can be a seriously effective part of their healing.
I remember last year this time, Valentine’s week was the first week I began receiving meals from my local Mom’s Club (love you ladies!). With the meal a friend brought was a few small, thoughtful gifts that completely surprised me and made me feel so seen. It also doesn’t hurt that my main love language is gifts (I love Nordstrom ;)), but not everyone is me.
A woman from church came to my house this week to watch my youngest child for a couple hours so I could get some work done, and she brought with her a cookie cake (my biggest weakness). It was just so kind and thoughtful, on top of everything else she helps me with.
Be that person for someone. It really and truly makes a difference. Here are some ideas on how you can be a support to someone who is widowed or single on a holiday that probably will cause them to feel lonelier than any average day:
Love them in their Language
A gesture to someone that is hurting doesn’t need to be big at all. A small token or spoken word just shows that you were thinking about them. It shows them you care and were thinking about them. If you know the person well enough, try and love in their language if you know it. Do they feel loved with acts of service? Words? Physical touch? Quality time? Or gifts?
Here are some ideas for each category:
You could send them a small gift (Amazon delivers for free and quickly, remember! You don’t always have to be present to deliver it.). A sweet friend gifted me a custom bracelet with an engraving of something Marcus wrote to me which was just so special (I will get to sharing it!). You could send a candle or chocolates or flowers (which you can also send through Prime too, by the way!). Send anything that shows you are thinking of them. Gift cards to restaurants are helpful too! Remember that on this holiday specifically, they would have been given a gift from their loved one, so it would be kind to give them something so it still feels special.
Acts of Service
It doesn’t matter the phase of life your single friend is in, more than likely they would appreciate an extra hand around the house. Show up and offer to clean a bathroom or fold some laundry. Or if they need more skilled help around the house, offer to lend your services or hire a handyman for them. You can send them a gift card for a cleaning service that they can use when they need it (my friends gifted me this last year for my birthday! I used it when I was away on vacation in July- nothing better than returning home to a sparkling clean home!). You could send them a meal subscription to help with the burden of making dinners or alleviating their budget. Offer to plow their driveway in the snow (a huge expense or physical burden!) or blow out their sprinkler system in the fall. Managing a house alone is a lot of work, and there is a million things to remember!
Humans need touch. And in the case of a widow, they are lacking that physical act of love (doesn’t need to just be sex to fulfill this one!). Get them a gift card for a massage. When you see them, give a hug or put your hand on their shoulder. I know for me a lot of times I don’t realize I am missing human connection until someone puts their arms around me!
Send the text. Make the call. Send them a letter in the mail or shoot them an email, just to check on them. Ask specific questions about their life, how the kids are doing in school or how they are feeling about the holiday coming up.
Be present. Ask if it is OK to just be with them. Some may want to talk, but just your presence without words is valuable in itself. Be available without any pressure for them to act a certain way. Take them on a date to the movies or sit down and grab a coffee at a coffee shop. Or, like my friends did a few weeks ago, crash their house and kick them out to get a massage, and have sushi and wine when they return. I felt so loved and cared for in so many different ways! Plus I can’t always leave my house because of the kids, so it is extra special when people are willing to come to me.
Don’t be showy about your love, but also don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.
I am genuinely happy for love. I love love, I love to see people enter into new relationships and get married. There is a huge part of me that hurts, but that shouldn’t be on you to diminish what you have because of what I lost. I want you to thrive. It is a painful reminder sometimes, yes, but this is where God has me. And you pretending your love doesn’t exist doesn’t help mine to exist. Don’t avoid talking about your husband/wife/boyfriend because I don’t have mine! But be understanding that it might cause us to reflect on the fact that we are alone and may desire that relationship.
Remember their spouse.
Their love died. The person they shared a life with is no longer physically here on this earth, but their love for them didn’t die with them. So talk about them. Ask them to share what they loved most about their partner. Share a funny story. Share with them your favorite memory of their person. Their person died, but I guarantee they desperately don’t want their memory of them to fade. So join them in remembering. And if they aren’t comfortable talking, encourage them to write. Writing has been a huge part of my healing.
Round up the ladies and go have a party!
I am a huge proponent of finding an excuse for a party. So why not get all your friends and go have some fun! Go out to eat, head to the movies, hit up the club or whatever to put a smile on your face. Being around people who understand you and your situation is so helpful. Even if you are married and in a different stage of life, offer to embrace where they are and connect on their level! You don’t have to be single to be their friend. You don’t have to have gone through what they’ve gone through to be a support.
Basically, do what feels right and authentic coming from you. Any gesture of kindness has made me feel so appreciated in a time that is so complicated and heavy. By you being intentional about acknowledging them and how hard this day might be, you will help them feel less lonely.
Please consider sharing to encourage others to love on these hurting people in ways that will be helpful! Shop similar dresses here. You can also check out my Valentine’s Day gift guide for gift ideas. Or are you interested in Valentine’s Day Gift Guide/posts of the past? Check out this one from 2017 and this from 2018.
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photos by Bekah Scadding