Follow The Grief Toolbox 

  • |    
Home

VALENTINE’S DAY HEALING HEART

Valentine’s Day, 2008 will forever live in my heart as well as in my mind’s eye. The day began when I was awakened by noise coming from what seemed to be the vicinity of the kitchen.  As I approached to retrieve my first cup of coffee of the day, I found my beautiful wife Michelle busy working on her latest project: making pretzels sticks dipped in various flavors of chocolate; each stick beautifully wrapped in heart-themed cellophane, with a red or pink bow.  “These are Valentine’s Day gifts for your staff,” she said.  “Employees always like getting gifts from their boss.”  I didn’t know it at that precise moment, but Michelle’s efforts to spread joy among my team at work would be the last thing she did in our home before being admitted into a hospital for the last time, later that same day. Michelle lost her battle with cancer twenty-one days later on March 7, 2008, a dark and rainy Friday evening in San Antonio, Texas.

                  Surviving holidays as a widower, especially as a new widower, is always tricky.  As an advocate for widowers, I have noticed how most widowers have one or two holidays that are harder than others to deal with, for they are laced with cherished memories that are more valuable than the Crown Jewels of England. For me, Valentine’s Day is one of those days. With perfect regularity, February 14th is always sure to give me pause, as each year I’m reminded of the sixteen years I celebrated it with Michelle.

                  For many widowers, Valentine’s Day delivers an endless barrage of love symbolism, perhaps never to be experienced again. From chocolates and flowers for their lady to memories of a warm wet kiss or a loving glance from across a room, the expressions of love around Valentine’s Day are inescapable. Valentine’s Day reminds many widowers of the emptiness they may have become accustomed to living with daily, even if for only a brief second when their grief of yesterday assumes its role at center stage in one’s thoughts.

                  Following Michelle’s passing, I assumed I would be a bachelor for the rest of my days.  It was about that time I decided to celebrate Michelle’s life by living mine.  Two and one-half years after Michelle’s passing, I met and fell in love with Maria. We were married twelve months later off the coast of Italy during a ceremony onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

                  Does this mean I never think about Michelle anymore?  Hardly.  I am proud to say I was married to Michelle as I am to Maria today.  Today, Valentine’s Day reminds me that the human heart can mend and is capable of loving more than one person over a lifetime. If a widower is seeking companionship, a life partner or perhaps more, he should have hope that such joy may well be awaiting its discovery by him.  And it is likely to occur when he least expects it to do so.                   

                  I understand that some widowers, including those who, like me may have discovered love again, have lingering difficulty in dealing with the visible triggers of grief Valentine’s Day presents. For them, permit me to offer a few suggestions. 

                  1.  Spend the day with your children or with members of your extended family preparing your wife’s favorite recipes.  Once made, enjoy a family meal with each other while allowing each family member to share stories about your wife.

                  2.  Spend some time working on your family tree, capturing memories about your wife for future generations to enjoy.  You may even want to write your wife a letter and insert it into your family tree’s archives.

                  3.  Spend time with your grandchildren, perhaps taking them on a day-trip to show them their grandmother's favorite park, the home of her youth, or where the two of you met.  And be sure to take the little ones to their grandmother’s favorite restaurant and buy their lunch while you’re there.

                  4.  Focus your expressions of love on to others.  From volunteering for the Red Cross or your local veteran’s organization to spend some time assisting those served by your wife’s favorite charity.

                  5.  Volunteer to babysit for another couple so they can enjoy their Valentine’s Day as much as you enjoyed yours during years past.

                  6.  Be strengthened by reading scripture (1 Thessalonians 4) that speaks to Our Lord’s promise that we will one day again be reunited with those that we love.

                  Just because someone dies, doesn’t mean the love they shared with others did likewise.  This Valentine’s Day, go out and celebrate the time you were blessed to be with your beloved wife.  And when you lay your head on your pillow later that evening, be sure to tell your deceased wife you love her.  Go ahead.  She’s listening.  

Share This Article With Friends

About the Author

Herb Knoll lost his wife, Michelle, to pancreatic cancer on March 7, 2008. Knoll is a retired bank executive, marketer, and professional speaker turned widower advocate. He founded the Michelle’s Angels Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization with a mission to “provide love, hope, compassion, and comforting music to those who quietly suffer” (MichellesAngel. com). Knoll also founded the Widowers Support Network in 2014 (WidowersSupportNetwork.com), so he could better serve, comfort, and assist widowers.

Knoll has previously served as a weekly columnist for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, a contributing writer for Sales & Marketing Management and Marketing Times magazines, and as an on-air talent for television commercials. As the former director of public and media relations for KeyBank (NY) and later as president of Marketplace Bank (FL), Knoll frequently appeared as his bank’s spokesperson on radio and television. PBS affiliate WNED produced and aired three-part series Today’s Executive, featuring Herb’s business insights, which were featured in his 1985 book, The Total Executive.

An inductee of the Buffalo/Niagara Sales & Marketing Executive’s Hall of Fame, Knoll went on to serve as the Executive Director of the 10,000+ member Sales & Marketing Executives International and was a charter member of the board of directors for Nap Ford Community School in Orlando. A former U.S. Army Reserve Drill Sergeant (E-7), Knoll is a proud member of the Knights of Columbus. Knoll lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife, Maria.

As a bank executive, Herb Knoll was known as a man who could get the job done. But when Knoll lost his wife to cancer he found few resources that could help him recover. And the more he learned about the plight of widowers, from high suicide rates to physical and emotional problems, the more he became motivated to write a book with fellow widowers, for fellow widowers.

Knoll’s The Widower’s Journey tackles tough questions and provides advice on many topics, including:

how men can process grief keeping healthy during stressful times managing a career while coping with loss drawing strength from your faith reentering the dating world dealing with the issues that sex, dating, and marriage create parenting as a widower solving financial and legal problems preserving your late partner’s memory for yourself and for family and friends

Knoll breaks down barriers that block men in their journeys to recovery. He encourages men to seek out the fellowship of other widowers, and he provides resources that men need to move forward.

He also identifies how society fails widowers, and spells out how institutions need to change so widowers can receive the support they deserve.

______________________________________

Shopping cart

View your shopping cart.

Featured Product

$25.00
Three for $25 Piece of You Bracelet The Piece of You Bracelet by Heavensbook Angels is to be worn by anyone with...

Register Your Toolkit Here


Learn more about this informational and inspirational DVD program offering hope to the bereaved.

Popular Content