Y’all, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!  I’m sure you are all aware since it’s been apparent in the stores for quite awhile.  Pink and red items are everywhere.  The shelves are packed with cards, candy, stuffed animals, and heart shaped items.  Bouquets of flowers are strategically placed near the checkout.  This is all well and good for those who have a Valentine to celebrate with.  Some of us don’t have that though.  

Last year was my first Valentine’s Day without Jeffrey, and at that point, I had only been without him for 70 days.  To say that it was rough would be an understatement.  I remember walking into our local florist shop in a daze.  I bought a single rose,  drove out to the cemetery, and sat there and just cried for quite a while.  

Jeff and I didn’t always make a big deal about Valentine’s Day.  He would joke that it was a Hallmark holiday, and I would reply that it was created long before Hallmark existed.  He would get me flowers some years.  We would go out to dinner together sometimes, but other times, I would fix us a nice meal at home.  I usually got him a card and wrote something nice in it, and occasionally he did the same. One year we conceived a child on Valentine’s Day.  Thankfully, they didn’t all turn out that way!  My point is that it was always a day we celebrated and showed each other love, but it wasn’t something we made a huge fuss over.

With this being my second Valentine’s Day without him, I have been doing some thinking.  I am nowhere near ready to date, and frankly, I may never be.  I just don’t know at this point.  So, I have been asking myself what Valentine’s Day mean to me now as a widow.  After pondering, I realized that it’s still a day of love in my opinion.  However, love isn’t just romantic. I did a little research, and it appears there are 7 types of love…eros (romantic), philia (friendship), storge (familial), agape (unconditional), ludus (playful or uncommitted), pragma (practical and longstanding), and philautia (self-love).  I find it comforting to realize that I still have lots of love in my life.  Maybe not your typical Valentine’s Day love, but love nonetheless.  

So, for Valentine’s Day this year, I have decided that I am going to show as much love as possible.  Heck, I am going to work on giving it away all during the month of February.  I’m going to find different ways to let my family and friends know that they are loved.  Nice texts or cards with thoughtful words, small gifts, home cooked meals, flowers…there is really so much I can do to show those around me that I love them and that they are special to me.  I’m planning on sending my kids on a treasure hunt.  The hunt will lead them to the place where I will be waiting to enjoy some time with them.  I’ve also decided to do some random acts of kindness to share love with strangers within my community.

I’m sure on Valentine’s Day I will go out to the cemetery and spend some time with Jeff.  Might even take him a rose again.  I’m positive that I will shed many tears.  I miss him, and I will acknowledge how I am feeling.  I will let those feelings wash over me for a bit.  That is all perfectly okay!  However, what I won’t do is allow myself to sit in pity and wallow in those feelings for a lengthy period of time.  Jeffrey wouldn’t want that for me, and honestly, I don’t want that for myself.

So, after giving myself some time to feel my loss, I will go out and spread some love and joy.  I’m going to spread it thicker than my kids spread Nutella on their Eggo Waffles.  That is thick folks!  I’m going to spread it around like the wind has spread the leaves from my large maple trees.  Hopefully, my neighbors like what I spread more than that though.  In choosing to do this, it will help others feel some happiness, and truly, it will lift my spirits too.  It really is a win-win.

My hope for all of you wonderful ladies who have also faced great loss is that you too will allow yourself to feel the feels.  Then I hope you go out there and embrace some love.  Maybe it will be some philautia (self-love) with a pedicure or a massage.  Perhaps, you might embrace philia (friendship) and meet up with friends for a nice lunch or a movie.  Whatever it is, I hope that you remember you are still loved, and you still have so much love to give.    


Dawn’s life was forever altered on December 6, 2018 when she got the call that her husband, Jeffrey, had passed away at his work. She quickly learned that Jeff died from a gunshot wound, and detectives determined that it was self-inflicted. Dawn still struggles to wrap her brain around that fact. She will tell you that most days she doesn’t think about that part of it at all. Her husband is gone. The manner in which he died ultimately doesn’t matter. Gone is gone. He will forever be 46. Jeff and Dawn started out as friends in the Fall of 1997. They started to date in January of 1999. On September 3rd, 2000, in front of a beautiful lake, Jeff asked Dawn to be his wife, lover and friend forever. She excitedly accepted, and on June 30th, 2001, they became husband and wife. Together, Jeff and Dawn had 3 children...Ali, Josh & Meghan. During the majority of their 17 years of marriage, Dawn was a housewife and Jeff ran a fencing company. The kind of fencing that keeps children and animals contained. Not the kind of fencing that uses a sword. After Jeff passed, Dawn went back to school to get her special education endorsement. She is proud to be a special education teacher. In her free time, she can usually be found spending time with family and friends. Reading has been her passion since she was just a little girl, but since Jeff passed, she has found it hard to focus on reading. While that is a negative change that has happened on her journey, one positive change is that she has been writing more. Dawn tries to be very open about her journey with the hopes that it will help even just one other person better understand grief. For years, Dawn has been passionate about spreading joy to those around her. She continues to be that way, and now she is very purposeful about trying to focus on the positive things even during a horrible situation. She moves forward on this journey with her mind focused on continuing to honor Jeffrey, as well as trying to raise their three wonderful children in a way that will make him proud. Her hope is to live a life that will allow her to see Jeff in Heaven. She wants to see his smile again and feel his arms around her. Of course, that will be after she hopefully hears her Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”