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She lost her husband in 2022. This Valentine’s Day, she wants to help other widows feel less alone. 

A woman in a black dress sits against a white brick wall with a somber expression on her face. She holds a black and white photo of a couple.
Jessica Mumford
Krista Patronick of Hanover holds a photo of her late husband, Tony. Patronick is delivering cards and roses to other widows this Valentine's Day.

Wednesday will be Krista Patronick’s second Valentine’s Day without her husband, Tony.

“He was 41 when he passed away,” she said. “So definitely way too young. And we had planned a lot more time together.”

Tony wasn’t big on Valentine’s Day. He called it a “Hallmark holiday.” But Patronick made him celebrate it anyway. And now, with him gone, it can be a tough time of year.

“What made a difference for me was my friends and family sending me flowers, and sending me cards, and reaching out to me, because they knew it was going to be hard for me,” she said.

This year, Patronick – who lives in Hanover – hopes to do the same for other people who’ve suffered that kind of loss. On Wednesday, she plans to drive all over the Upper Valley, hand-delivering cards and roses to around 30 widows and widowers.

She said she doesn’t have all the answers. She just wants people to know that someone else understands what they’re going through.

“We all kind of have this hole in our lives, this person that we're missing, and we can all relate to that,” she said. “So I'm just hoping that I can lift people up on what can be a really hard day for some of us.”

Patronick said she got the idea from a podcast. She’s enlisted two other widows in her efforts – one to help write notes on the cards, the other to help deliver them.

Some of the people on her list are younger widows, like herself; others are older. She’ll visit some at home and others at their day jobs. Patronick got many of the names from friends, who told her about widowed friends or family members of theirs.

“I'm just hoping that people feel a little bit of love on this hard holiday,” she said. “I've heard from some that Valentine's Day was special to them because it was their anniversary. Or maybe they always celebrated with their person.”

Patronick is thinking of making this an annual tradition. She said it’s been powerful to hear the stories of so many widows and their late partners. It’s a reminder that those people lived.

“I have met a lot of widows,” she said. “And just learning all of their stories has, in a weird way, made me feel closer to Tony.”

Paul Cuno-Booth covers health and equity for NHPR. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for The Keene Sentinel, where he wrote about police accountability, local government and a range of other topics. He can be reached at pcuno-booth@nhpr.org.