by Monica Lobo
Valentine’s Day—A day that proudly encourages you to fall in love, and seems to play love songs on repeat. Although it’s a holiday that boasts love, it may not be as enthusiastically received by those who have loved and lost.
Jasmine D’Cruz, an Intensive Care Unit and Neurology Nurse and mother of two, fell in love with her best friend while studying in Bombay (Mumbai), India in 1976. “He was kind, dependable and loyal. He wasn’t playing games like the other young men,” she reminisced with a smile. Jasmine devastatingly lost her husband to colon cancer after a four-year battle in 2001. “I mourned for over a year. I would go to his gravesite every day after work and just sit there and cry,” Jasmine explained.
This Valentine season, she will be coping with the grief just as she would any other day of the year—surrounding herself with family and friends, and attending church and gatherings. She’s also addicted to Indian soap operas, which she intends to watch with her daughter. “Hope, that’s what’s kept me going,” Jasmine exclaimed with her head held high.
Carolyn Gose is a retired English teacher who spent much of the summer on her apartment balcony in Perrysburg getting lost in a book. She lost her husband to pancreatic cancer just one month after his diagnosis. On Tuesdays, Carolyn gets together with local widows for shopping and dinner dates. When asked about Valentine’s Day, she answered: “I’m a ‘snowbird.’ I go to Florida during the winter to keep my spirits alive. You just have to find your own way of coping with grief—go out there and just do it.”
Pat Nowak lost her husband suddenly at age 47 in 1995, when he was struck by a motorist while crossing the street. Now, she is the Executive Director of the Sylvania Area Chamber of Commerce and author of The ABC’s of Widowhood: A Guide to Life After a Death (available online on Amazon). For Valentine’s Day, Ms. Nowak suggests making sure you’re busy and doing something unique, fun and different: “Do not wallow in self-pity. You need to make yourself accessible to new things. ”
In addition to support from family and friends, networking, traveling, and trying new things, there are many support groups and self-help resources available in the community: Grief support groups at local hospice centers and hospitals, singles’ and widows’ travel groups. “There is no longer a stigma behind grieving a lost loved one,” Pat explained.