The team from Sands Colwood and Hatley Memorial Gardens donate blood in memory of their loved ones. If you’ve experienced a loss, these kinds of meaningful actions can help, especially at times like Valentine’s Day, when feelings can be amplified.

Living with grief in the season of love

Winter and Valentine’s can be difficult, but spring – and hope – are on the horizon

It seems that in February, everyone is talking about love – it’s a sentimental season with thoughts of romance and togetherness, with Valentine’s Day at the heart of it all.

But if you’re grieving after the loss of a partner, this retail and media messaging around the season of love can amplify your sense of loss and loneliness. Add to that the dark and dreary winter days and even greater sadness can follow.

The good news is that February’s arrival also brings a little more daylight, and the promise of spring just around the corner, says Julie Evans, from Sands Funeral Chapel in Colwood.

“Spring brings us new beginnings with a sense of renewal and hope,” Evans says.

Having helped many families through holidays and special occasions following a loss, Evans shares a few ideas to make the season a little easier:“I think it’s important to plan how you’re going to get through the day,” she says.

  • Make arrangements with friends to get out of the house – Plan a lunch out or a potluck dinner, take in a movie, or meet for a walk at a favourite park.
  • Get active and soak in a little late-winter sunshine.
  • Honour your loved one in a meaningful way – maybe creating a scrapbook, for example, or volunteering in their name, suggests Evans, who with the team from Sands Colwood and Hatley Memorial Gardens took time last week to donate blood in memory of their loved ones.
  • Self-care is also important. Some people will find activities like journaling or blogging are therapeutic, or maybe treat yourself with a gift that your special someone would have given you. You might also consider signing up for a community course as a commitment to getting out of the house and engaged with people again.
  • Keep it positive where you can – you might consider tuning out from traditional and social media for a few days, if you find that discouraging or highlighting your loss at a time designed for couples, Evans suggests.
  • And remember, at the end of the day, it’s OK to grieve, however that looks for you. “It’s really important not to be isolated during the winter months and holidays,” she says. “And remember, one step at a time will get you to the other side.”

In the first year or so after the loss of a loved one, milestones and special occasions can feel lonely, but you don’t have to be alone.

For more information, drop by Sands Funeral Chapel at 317 Goldstream Ave., and if you would benefit from some extra support during the first year after a loss, Arbor Memorial’s Aftercare Advisor Email Series may help.

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