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When Valentine's Day Reopens Your Grief: How to Manage and the Ball in the Box

Valentine’s Day is an unexpected holiday that can bring up feelings of grief. be an especially difficult time when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. 

The decorations, cards with heartfelt messages, flowers, and candy can serve as painful reminders that someone special is missing from your life this year. Valentine's Day emphasizes love and connection, so it's natural to feel their absence even more profoundly. 

Grief also isn't linear - it comes in unpredictable waves. Certain days like holidays or anniversaries can unexpectedly bring up feelings of sadness, even when you feel you've been coping well. This doesn't mean you're taking steps backward, it's just part of the winding journey of grief. As you’ll read later, this just means the ball in your box is big today.

Know that you are not alone in your grief journey, The Lighthouse Retreat is here to help in any way we know how.


So, here are some tips and a helpful analogy for coping with grief:

  1. Allow Yourself to Feel - Don't suppress your emotions. Let yourself cry, get angry, and talk to trusted friends so you don’t fall into isolation or avoidance. Know and work on accepting your feelings as normal because they are!

  2. Take Care of Yourself - Make sure to get enough rest, nutrition, and exercise. Practice self-care like massage or taking a bubble bath. You might be shocked to find out how much taking care of your physical self can help with this.

  3. Embrace the Support System - Spend time with people who understand or will listen to you about your loss. Join a grief support group if someone in your circle can’t provide what you need. Don't be afraid to share stories and memories of who you lost. Talking about them can help. Share both the good and bad memories because all of it was a part of your experience with your loved one.

  4. Do What Feels Right - There's no one right way to handle the holidays, days like Valentine’s Day, or those random moments where loss smacks you in the face. Some find comfort in traditions, others want to create new rituals. Do what fits your emotional needs and don’t worry about how others grieve. 

  5. Be Gentle with Yourself - Understand that grief comes in waves and some days will be better than others. Respect your limits and don't over-schedule.

Image sourced from Hospiscare

The Ball in the Box Theory for Dealing with Grief 

This theory imagines grief as a ball in a box with a pain button. In the beginning days following a loss, the ball is very large. Any little movement causes the ball to hit the button, triggering your profound feelings of loss. The ball rattles frequently on its own, hitting that button over and over, sometimes feeling uncontrollable.

Over time, the ball shrinks. It still hits that button just as hard, but less often. Some days it's small and you find joy again. Other days it's big, just like in the beginning. This happens gradually, but the ball never completely disappears.

The analogy reminds us that grief isn't linear. The intensity comes and goes. We must be patient with ourselves and realize better days lie ahead.

Our compassionate staff offers grief counseling, support groups, and other services to help you navigate life's changes. You don't have to walk this path alone. And if we can’t help you, we’ll guide you toward someone that can.

If you are struggling with loss, call The Lighthouse Retreat. 📞 (914) 589-7188

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