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Valentine’s Day can be especially painful for those who have lost a partner

Marcus Ganahl
Valentine's Day can be challenging for those who have lost loved ones

It can be a romantic time for couples to celebrate their love, but emotional for those who have lost a loved one.

Valentine's Day can be a romantic time for couples to celebrate their love, and everywhere you look there are pink and red balloons, heart shaped candies and chocolates, and bouquets of flowers.

But how does that feel for those who have lost a loved one?

"I always thought that I would die first. I was older than him," Claude Raffin - who was with his partner John for 41 years - told KCLU.

But Raffin, who lives in Santa Barbara, was left grieving when John lost his battle with cancer.

"His passing before me - that wasn't supposed to happen," he said.

And for those like Raffin, who are grieving a lost loved one, holidays like Valentine’s Day may bring up difficult emotions.

"I went down a deep hole and I couldn't crawl out of it and I attempted suicide. I didn't succeed," Raffin told KCLU.

Michael Cruse is a Bereavement Service Manager from Hospice of Santa Barbara. He told KCLU that navigating a holiday centered on love and unity can be especially difficult for those who are grieving.

Cruse said practicing self-care – whether that’s a take-out from a favorite restaurant or taking a stroll around the neighborhood, is one way to bring comfort at challenging times.

"If the activity connects the individual to the person who has died, in a comforting way, that's the thing that they will do," said Cruse.

"In grief, there's this double-edged sword of having to go into the sorrow and the sad of it, in order to rediscover the joy of the relationship and how important it was," said Cruse.

He said looking at photos or letters, or writing, can provide comfort.

Grieving is a personal and individual process and what works for one person, may not work for another said Cruse.

For Raffin, he and his partner enjoyed traveling together.

"Where ever we went, John was the life and soul of the party," he said. "What I've learned to do is treasure the memories."

Raffin said that when he sees couples dining together on Valentine's Day, he thinks to himself how lucky they are.

"I feel like going to them and saying, 'treasure each other... be good to each other.' "

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.