Valentine’s Day –  it’s supposed to be that special day for expressing your love and devotion to your beloved. But what if you have recently broken up with your partner? It can trigger a torrent of grief and loss as you reflect on the past relationship. You might feel very alone whilst the world appears to be celebrating love, with the hearts and flowers decking every shop window; happy couples linking arms on street corners and friends expressing delight with their flowers and fluffy teddies. How can you survive Valentine’s Day and move forward?

1. Embrace your feelings

If you have recently split from a partner, you might feel a range of emotions: sadness, anger, anxiety, relief, fear or excitement to name a few. It is quite typical that we can experience an array of feelings, all in one day. This can be confusing. If you can, allow yourself to feel your feelings and let them out. Have a cry, talk to a friend, write down how you feel, do whatever it is that you need to do to grieve. The end of a relationship, even when it feels like the right decision, can be painful, specially on Valentine's Day. We need to mourn the end of this chapter in our lives, before we can move on.

2. Stay present

 Of course, you will probably need to vent to close friends or family initially, but try to stay with your current feelings and not go endlessly over past events. Ruminating about what went wrong and replaying this in our minds can be extremely unhelpful and can keep us stuck, in a place of anger and resentment.

On Valentine’s Day, you might also reminisce about the happy times you had together, thus amplifying your sense of loss. Remind yourself to focus on this moment to get through the day.

3. Distract yourself

 It is important to feel your feelings, but doing this 24/7 will drive you mad and exhaust you emotionally. So, get busy with activities that you find absorbing and distracting. Embrace those tasks you haven’t had time for, such as clearing out cupboards or your wardrobe. Reach out to friends who support and encourage you. Maybe do some exercise or a craft activity on Valentine's Day.

4. Learn the lesson

 Every relationship offers us the chance for learning, about ourselves and how we communicate with others. We will have learned about our deepest needs, desires, hopes and fears. These valuable nuggets of knowledge can be carried forward into our future connections with others. We can repeat and amplify the good bits and consider how we might act differently when things went wrong. Try not to have regrets but learn life’s lesson.

5. Look to the future

 Reaching the end of a relationship, can offers opportunities for new beginnings. As you work through the grief of your loss, you will start to get glimmers of possibility and hope for the future. Now, you have the chance to focus on what’s ahead and to consider your own wants and desires along the next stage of life’s journey.

Going through a break-up can be sad and distressing. If you find yourself struggling to come to terms with the end of your relationship, and having difficulty in processing the emotional fall-out, it could be a time to have some counselling.

Further reading

How therapy helped me after a break up

Life after a break up  

When you can't get over your ex

Enduring heartache