by Lisa Buell

Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers, a time to celebrate our passion for one another.  But what happens after our child has died?  Our innocence is lost and it takes every ounce of strength to be civil or even interested in what our partners are saying.

What happens when our psychological energy is consumed with the memories of our child and it is taking everything we have just to get through the day? What happens when we can barely look at our spouse because it reminds us of the dream that was our life, a dream that evaporated the moment our child took a last breath?

What we do is follow our own breath, let it take us deep inside ourselves to find the love and gratitude for the history we have shared with our partner.  We take this time to acknowledge that our partners experience the same love we have for our child; many of our memories are theirs as well.

This Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to remember the love we have for our child and the magnificence that our love created.  Know that we have the ability somewhere deep within ourselves to rise above the loss just long enough to create something that comes from our hearts, even when they are broken: a collage of our family, a table decoupage with our pictures, a necklace engraved with our children’s names, a new remote control so our spouse can continue to zone out on the television, a quilt made from our child’s clothes, a rose bush in the garden that is our child’s favorite color.

Or we can wait until it’s Valentine’s Day and buy massive quantities of half-price chocolate and eat until we fall into a sugar coma, sleeping off the hangover as we hope to be more up for Valentine’s Day next year.  We all have choices in this life, I believe in the human spirit and that we are all trying to do our very best… whatever that may look like. So do your best to love yourself and know that the love, passion, and energy you once felt for your partner will begin to flow yet again.

Lisa Buell is a writer, activist, mother of three and parent of two. She works with Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, Partnership for Parents , as a parent advocate bringing a parent’s perspective to the development of palliative care programs and policies. To contact Lisa email her at

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