Valentine’s Day is a time for red balloons, heart-shaped chocolates, and bouquets of roses — a day meant to celebrate loving someone and being loved.

However, for those grieving a lost loved one, holidays such as Valentine’s Day may bring up difficult emotions and memories of a romantic partner who has passed away. 

Whether it is the first Feb. 14 without a special loved one, or several years without them, it is natural to miss them, and to feel overwhelmed, lost, confused, angry, guilty and sad.  

Hospice of Santa Barbara understands navigating a holiday focused on love and unity can be especially difficult for those who are grieving, and offers the following tips to help cope:

Journaling is a good tool for exploring complex emotions. Writing in a journal can relieve anxiety and help process thoughts and feelings. Benefits of journaling include reduced stress, increase in problem-solving abilities, and improved sleep. Journaling can provide therapeutic value through the expression of thoughts and emotions, freely and honestly.

Practicing self-care and engaging in activities that bring comfort and joy are important during this challenging time. Order takeout from a favorite restaurant, spend time with a friend or family member, or take a stroll around the neighborhood. Remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself. Healing takes time. 

Connect with others: Reaching out to family, friends or a support group can be beneficial. You can reminisce about fond memories or share photos of your special someone. It may also be helpful to connect with others who are also grieving or understand your situation. Local support groups, such as your local hospice, can provide helpful resources on bereavement. 

Honoring your beloved: Finding a way to honor your loved one is a way to channel positive energy during a difficult time. A good starting point is to ask: How would my loved one like to be remembered? You can volunteer at their favorite charity, donate to a local organization, or plant a tree in their memory.

It’s okay to do things differently this time of year, and it’s okay to not celebrate if it feels too hard.

Tips for friends and family to support grieving partners and spouses on Valentine’s Day:

  • Respect their wishes and be understanding if they choose not to celebrate. 
  • Offer your support and let them know they are not alone. 
  • Consider doing something special to remember their loved one, such as lighting a candle or making a donation in their memory.

The most important thing is to be kind and understanding to those who are grieving, and to offer love and support.

For more about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, call 805-563-8820 or visit