We all have “trigger” days that remind us of our loss, especially around anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas and of course the dreaded day of hearts and flowers… Valentine’s Day.

Psychologist George Bonanno coined the term “coping ugly” for all the strategies that we might employ to manage through loss. Some of them might not be too pretty, but whatever way you find to navigate through these days, remember there is no right way or wrong way to grieve.  It’s all a bit of a roller coaster and we need to be able to forgive ourselves for whatever coping ugly behaviour is for us. If we are having a good day, enjoy it and if not so good, know that it will pass.

The good news is that this rollercoaster may lead us to realizations that we might not of had without going through the grief process.  If you’ve lost someone, you often find your understanding of others increases.  Sometimes living through awful experiences allows you to more fully understand other people’s pain and to be more empathetic than you might have been in the past.

You may even find new strength and resilience that you didn’t know you possessed. We often find that as we go through life and experience a wide range of events, our ability to carry on no matter the issue seems to grow.  We’ve found that resilience expands when you are part of a supportive community like Widowed Friends.  Meeting people and engaging in social activities helps distract your mind and introduces you to new ideas that can help you find your path forward.

So this Valentine’s Day, take care of yourself, cope ugly and be proud of all the choices you are making to learn to thrive again.