Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love and romance. At least that’s what this day has evolved into. The origin of this day isn’t particularly romantic. It’s actually quite tragic.

Valentine was a priest at the time when Emperor Claudius the Cruel was reigning. Under his rule, Rome was involved with many conflicts and the need for soldiers was great. Claudius believed that because potential soldiers had a strong attachment to their families, they were reluctant to join the army. Because of this, Emperor Claudius issued an edict prohibiting all marriages and engagements. He felt that unmarried soldiers fought better because they weren’t worried about their families.

In steps Valentine! He felt the edict was unjust and began to perform marriage ceremonies in secret. Because of this, Valentine met with an awful demise. After being caught performing the secret marriage ceremonies, Valentine was condemned to die by clubbing and then being beheaded. While in prison, awaiting his death, Valentine was jailed with a man named Asterius, who had a daughter that was blind. Asterius asked Valentine to heal his daughter, which he did. Valentine wrote to this woman, and as the story goes, signed these notes “from your Valentine”.

Valentine was put to death on February 14th on or about 270. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius declared that February 14th be celebrated as St Valentine’s Day. Over time, this became the date to exchange messages of love.

So how do we incorporate all that love into a day that might just remind us of how much we miss our loved one? Perhaps we need to change our perspective, and look at this day as a special day to remember our deceased loved ones and to celebrate our love for them.

Death does not end our relationship with those that have died. Our physical relationship will be changed forever, but our love doesn’t end when someone dies. This year, try and find a way to remember your loved one. Take time to reminisce and celebrate what once was.

By Maria Farrell, Director, GriefWork: A National Servite Ministry of Compassion