February 1, 2024

Valentine’s Day Remembrance: Gifts for Those Who Have Lost Their Partner

by Lanna Britt

February is a month long associated with love and sending acknowledgements of friendship and affection. Specifically, Valentine’s Day (February 14) is a holiday celebrating love of all kinds. For a very interesting article on Valentine’s Day, check out this History Channel explainer that goes all the way back to Roman times, through the Middle Ages and even discusses the modern celebration of the day. According to Hallmark, 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged (not including classroom exchanges!). However, for those grieving a partner, Valentine’s Day may feel more sour than sweet. Selecting gifts for widows or gifts for a grieving widower can feel daunting. This blog will provide thoughtful gift ideas for those individuals who are dreading all things Cupid. 

Personalized Keepsakes

There is something so special about having an item engraved or receiving a gift that has a special etching on it. It’s an added element that conveys meaning, value and thoughtfulness and can make a great gift for the loss of a spouse. After we lost our second son Cooper at full term, I had his name engraved on a silver ring that I still wear, seven years later. It’s a simple way to carry a person, in a sense, along with you even after they’ve left this earth. I can go days or even weeks without thinking about Cooper and I’ve gotten to a point in my grief journey that I’m happy about that. But honestly, it makes me feel better knowing I’m still carrying a reminder of him with me each day. Consider choosing something like that as a memorial gift for the loss of a husband or wife. Laurelbox offers a number of customized memorial jewelry options that are sure to bring comfort to yourself or your friend. From engraved lockets to bracelets to even keychains, you can easily find the perfect sympathy gift for the loss of a spouse. 

Keep in mind, you don’t have to stick to the loved one’s name when it comes to personalizing something. Dates and special messages work too. My best friend’s husband lost his mom to cancer a few years ago and this summer, he tattooed the date of her passing on his wrist, along with a cardinal. It’s a sweet tribute to his mom that he’ll always have. 

Personalized photo frames and scrapbooks can be special sympathy gifts for loss of spouse as well. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Consider choosing a special photo of your friend and her lost love and placing it inside a personalized photo frame. That gift could sit on her desk and bring her bittersweet joy for years to come. Don’t be afraid to DIY a sympathy gift for someone who lost a loved one as well. You could assemble a homemade scrapbook with pictures, favorite memories, quotes about love and even little keepsakes like movie tickets or dried flowers. If you need some inspiration, read through these quotes about love including this gem from Helen Keller, "What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us."

Reading through some famous quotes about love can get your creative juices flowing. Helen Keller wrote, "What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us."

Heartfelt Letters and Messages

Writing and journaling is universally acknowledged to be helpful and cathartic in the grieving process. Writing heartfelt letters to the departed partner may help navigate and identify emotions. For some insightful suggestions and prompts, check out this article. In the sadness of grief, it can be easy to focus on the negative. Although there is time and space to sit in the dark boggy waters of loss, it is important to express love, share your emotions and even practice gratitude. If you are grieving the loss of your “other half” the act of practicing gratitude and remembering the person may lift your spirits. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends and ask them to contribute messages, favorite pictures, or special memories for whatever project you want to create. Your loved ones want to help you and support you as you grieve and heal. Consider including children who are grieving the parent or grandparent and ask for letters, memories or even for them to make a list of things that remind them of the person. Support and solidarity can mean the world to those who are grieving a loved one. 

Comforting Self-Care Gifts

We, as a society, are still getting used to the idea of self-care. I know as a wife and mother it’s hard for me to carve out time for myself. I’m much more inclined to practice self-care when I’m given something as a gift that I feel like I “should” use. A great loss of husband gift could be a basket full of self-care items that could encourage her on the hard days when she hears love songs on the radio, sees the Valentine’s Day sections in stores, and scrolls through social media and a dozen happy couples smile back at her. Some ideas:

  • Spa gift card or relaxation items
  • Scented candles, bath salts, and soothing oils
  • Spotify playlist of peaceful songs
  • Cozy blankets or slippers
  • Homemade coupon for hugs, back rubs, and couch time together
  • Box of Tissues
  • Luxury hand cream
  • Customize the above items with special touches like post-it notes with funny or thoughtful messages

Community and Support Resources

I was just reading an article by a psychologist that focused on how loneliness is an epidemic that affects up to a third of the world’s population! The loss of a spouse can cause the survivor to feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation. Encourage your friend to fight the urge to disengage and draw back at a time when he or she needs community most. A great option is to find support groups to connect with other individuals who have experienced similar loss. If you are a person of faith, see if there is a small group at your church you could invite him or her to join. You could also participate in events that celebrate the memory of loved ones. Seven years after my incredible stepfather passed away from cancer, my mom hosted a gathering in his honor this past January for friends and family. While he was still alive, he was involved in a music collective project reading the Psalms. This gathering debuted the album (you can listen to it here!) and was a chance for all those who loved him to reminisce. My mom said it was such a gift to hear not only his voice but also hear how he impacted those around him, even years later. It doesn’t matter if the loss happened years ago, don’t be afraid to host a gathering to share memories and stories and invite those who knew the person best to join. 

Counseling services may be helpful as well in the emotional healing process. Even just a few sessions with a professional might make a world of difference in coping with a devastating loss. 

Even if the passing occurred years ago, consider hosting a gathering to share stories and reminisce. Seven years later, two dozen loved ones gathered to celebrate and honor the life of my beloved stepfather at an event last month. 


We hope this has been helpful as you navigate how best to support a grieving friend with the loss of a spouse. Personalized keepsakes as a memorial gift for the loss of a husband or wife can be so meaningful and last long after the sympathy flowers wither. Heartfelt messages of love and support convey empathy to the grieving individual. A thoughtful basket of self-care items can create space for the person to find peace and quiet during an emotionally chaotic time. Finally, look for ways to connect your friend to others in the community so they don’t grieve alone! It’s especially important for us to remember and care for our loved ones this Valentine’s Day who are walking the hard path of grief.


Lanna Britt was a national news producer in Washington DC for nearly a decade covering politics, breaking news and current events.  She now lives with her husband and three children in Richmond VA. She has two sweet babies she’ll meet again in heaven.

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