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Blog: Stories and Insight

Navigating Grief in the New Year, Valentine’s Day, and Ramadan

Navigating Grief in the New Year, Valentine’s Day, and Ramadan

Many grievers exhale following the end of year holidays, only to find that those are followed by even more celebrations like New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and Ramadan. These holidays can also be a heavy lift, no matter what your loss experience, culture, or age. Our resources for who are grieving during the January, February, and March months are designed to help make these holidays less stressful.  

Grief in the New Years

Elderly woman holding her head in grief

The research discussed in the first of the holiday grief series, Navigating Grief During the Winter Holidays, suggests hat grief in the new year can be especially difficult. Grievers often think they have gotten through the worst of their grief mourning December closes. As a grief counselor and grief support group facilitator, I have heard bereaved people talk about the close of the old year, the beginning of a new year, and the complex web of feelings these bring.

Did You Know We Mark The New Year At Different Times?

January 1 – Julian Calendar 

January 7, 2023 -Mayahana New Year 

Theravada New Year – April 6, 2023 in the Buddhist Tradition

 Lunar New Year – January 22, 2023

 Indian New Year (uses both lunar and solar calendars) – March 22 in some regions and starts later in other regions

Whenever they mark in the “New Year”, grievers report feelings of sadness and renewed loss at the passing of the year. The prospect of a “new” year without their loved one can bring up renewed feelings of loss. Some say they want to kiss the difficult “old year” goodbye but have difficulty embracing a “new year.”  There are millions of people across the globe grieving losses. While no two people’s grief and loss experience are exactly alike, grief is universal, and holidays and other special days can harbor upsurges of grief. 

Grieving on Valentine’s Day

A man comforting a grieving, crying woman)

History of Valentine’s Day

The history of Valentine’s Day is multifaceted, having been traced back to two different third century Christian martyrs named Valentine, both of whom eventually were canonized as “saints.” It has also been suggested that the roots of Valentine’s Day are tied to a pre-Christian Roman holiday known as Lupercalia.

Additionally, a 14th century poem by Jeffrey Chaucer tagged February 14th as the day birds choose their mates. This reportedly led the English society to take on the notion of choosing a partner on February 14. Eventually, what may have started as a Christian religious holiday became a secular, “Hallmark” occasion celebrated in many parts of the world. 

Tips and Resources for Grieving on Valentine’s Day

Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day and its accompanying images of sweet cherubs, hearts, candy, and flowers can be especially difficult following the loss of a loved one. And although the day on the calendar has passed, the emotions that come with grieving on Valentine’s Day still deserve attention.  Navigating February after a loss presents plenty of challenges, but also opportunities to recognize that love is both transcendent and transformational.  

According to Vedic tradition which informs modern day yoga, the chakras are energy centers that run through the body. The heart chakra is affected by grief and loss. Consider the proverbial “broken heart.” Taking special care of your own heart, both literally and figuratively, is important for people who are grieving. Grief can affect the immune system, the cardiovascular system, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.

Tips for grievers during Valentine’s Day includes:
  1. Drinking plenty of water, eating healthy foods when chocolate may be the only thing that’s calling you.
  2. Paying attention to your physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Resources for grievers during Valentine’s Day include: 

Grieving During Ramadan

Woman wearing hijab looking out the window while traveling

As we move into March, those who practice Islam across the globe will be joining family and community to honor Ramadan. For those who are grieving during Ramadan, you may find comfort with these resources:

Whatever your cultural or faith tradition, healing a broken heart involves intention, attention, and support. Some find metaphors along the way, like Zoe’s hearts, to honor both pain and love. Some turn to their faith tradition for community and support.  As you navigate the holidays and special days this year, may you find some helpful hints to support you. May the concepts of love, healing, and mending a broken heart be your companions and bring you comfort.