Ask Ann Cannon: My sweetheart died on Valentine’s Day, but I don’t want my grief to spoil the day for others

Ann Cannon

Dear Ann Cannon • It will be seven years since my sweetheart husband and amazing father to our five children passed away quite unexpectedly on Feb. 14, 2013. As all that have experienced and grieved the death of a loved one, we, too, as a family have done and are still doing that. That date will always be difficult for us. Herein lies the quandary. My heart aches that our children and their spouses (who never know how to “celebrate” this day for and with their own sweethearts) continue to struggle with their emotions on Valentine’s Day. I very much desire for them to somehow find that same happiness, joy and especially romance that their parents had for nearly 30 years, as they are greatly weighed down with missing their daddy during this “season of love.” Any advice and/or suggestions to help them achieve this will be greatly appreciated.

In a Quandary

Dear In a Quandary • This is such a tender letter. Thank you for sharing your experience, as well as your heart, with our readers. Please know that I am truly sorry for your loss.

So. How do you help your children to have a more joyful experience during this “season of love”? I’m not sure you can. At least not yet. As I’ve mentioned in this column before, my own father died at Christmastime, a fact that has forever changed the way I experience the holidays. I still feel joy during the month of December — deeply satisfying joy, even — but I also experience surprising moments of intense grief, and that’s OK. I’ve come to accept that those hard moments remind me of how much I loved my father and how dearly I wish her were still here with us.

I wish I had better, more specific advice for you. As it is, I would just let your family acknowledge that Valentine’s Day is hard — certainly harder than it used to be. Allow them (and yourself) the space to honor your family’s loss in whatever way works best. Think about using the day to remember all the things you loved about this remarkable man. I keep a notebook in my purse all year long for the express purpose of jotting down happy memories of my dad whenever they pop into my brain. Doing this provides me with a great deal of comfort. Perhaps you and yours could do the same. If you choose to do so, take time to compare notes.

I wish you all health and healing.

And now a word from our readers regarding last Sunday’s column.

Dear Ann Cannon • Please tell all your readers to go to an honest-to-goodness-brick-and-mortar store and order flowers for Valentine’s Day from a local florist. Everyone will be much happier.

And this …

Have the husband who will be working at home rent a small office and continue to go to work every day. It’s well worth the cost. They aren’t that expensive. My husband has had a “work from home” job for more than 25 years. He has always had an office. We knew working at home with children wasn’t good for any of us. A clean break between work and family life is healthy for everyone. Even now as empty nesters we value the separation of work and home. After a hard day at work, it’s great to come home to a peaceful refuge from work.

Ann Cannon is The Tribune’s advice columnist. Got a question for Ann? Email her at askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.