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Supporting Widows and Widowers on Valentine’s Day

Not too long ago, I featured a Q & A on my blog with New York Times bestselling author Joyce Maynard. We discussed the death of her husband, the isolation she felt afterward, and ultimately, how she grew from the experience, feeling more joy than she ever thought possible. We never spoke about Valentine’s Day, but I’ve learned over time this holiday is particularly charged for widows and widowers, just as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are often so challenging for individuals, like me, who’ve lost their parents.

Losing a life partner is wrenching but learning how others have coped with similar experiences helps. That’s why I’m highlighting two books worth knowing about right now: Laura Fahrenthold’s The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles: A Love Story, and Donald Rosenstein and Justin Yopp’s The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life. Each book digs meaningfully into the experience of losing a spouse (Laura’s husband died suddenly at home in New York; Rosenstein and Yopp oversee support groups for widowed parents in North Carolina) and provides much-needed solace and practical guidance.

If you would like resources to help children navigate the loss of their mom or dad, the National Alliance for Grieving Children has numerous resources you can trust. You can find them listed here. I was recently honored to join Will Reeve, son of Christopher Reeve and Dana Reeve, on NAGC’s Board of Directors. Will and I both lost our parents and we’ll continue to use our experiences of loss and resilience to help grieving children across the country. Will’s outsize energy already does so much good for the world. His indefatigable work with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is inspiring. I’m thrilled we’re on Team NAGC together.

For strategies and opportunities for remembering loved ones, including ideas that will help children remember a parent, check out my book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive. You know and I know Valentine’s Day can be hard. But let’s reframe it. Let’s use this day to keep the memories of those we loved most alive.