It’s Memorial Day and everyone is anticipating a long weekend, filled with family and friends, gathering at beach houses, lounging by the lake, fishing and boating and all of it culminating in good food and fellowship. It is a time to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom to do these things. We live in a country with freedoms that many only dream about. We have no concept of what it would be like to not be able to exercise our free will to make decisions about our everyday life. It is important to stop and remember why you have this life and who helped make it possible. This brings me to the concept of remembering.
For those grieving the loss of someone, remembering is probably the most difficult part. Forgetting their voice, their smile, their laugh, the smell of their cologne or any and everything about them is the biggest fear of all. It makes you want to freeze time in order to preserve those things in your mind. Unfortunately, time marches on and it becomes more and more difficult to hold onto these precious things. All we want is to remember.
I remember thinking if I got better, after Lindsey died, that it meant leaving her behind. This fear was paralyzing and made it very difficult to see a future. I had to learn to take her with me and that meant I had to do the work of grief. It meant reading and studying everything I could in order to understand what grief work was. It meant taking better care of myself and exercising self compassion. I made it a priority to always take my “grief breaks” when I needed to. Wearing the mask in public is necessary, but when you are free, you can sit with your grief and just take moments to remember.
If you lose an infant or have a baby die before birth, you may not have made a lot of memories, but even the smallest of these babies bring something unique and special to this world and leave footprints on our hearts. Remember.
Sometimes relationships are complicated and many of those memories are not positive or helpful. This is also where self compassion comes in. No one wants to be unhappy, no one wants to have difficult times, but life is life and sometimes crap happens. When you don’t get a second chance, it can be extremely difficult to heal. Be kind to yourself when you have these thoughts and try to capitalize on the positive things. I find as time passes, the negative thoughts start to dim and the light shines brightest on the memories you want to keep. Remember.
If you want to help someone who is grieving, share a memory with them. Talk freely and openly about their loved one. Don’t be afraid to say their name. They may get emotional, but not because you brought them up, but because you remembered them. Our biggest fear is that our loved one will be forgotten by the world. Let us know that we, too, can freely share our memories with you and you won’t change the subject or visibly show your discomfort. Finally, really listen to us and you will give us the greatest gift of all. Remembering.
My memories are something that no one can take from me.
Lindsey, I remember your fierce love for your family. I remember you always told me you loved me before you hung up the phone.
Rick, I remember your sweet and mischievous smile. I remember how you looked at me and I felt true love.
Mom, I remember that you always had the right advice in any given situation. I remember the smell of your home cooking.
Nanny and Papa, I remember the love in your eyes when you looked at each other.
Memories are like the breadcrumbs you drop to find your way out of the maze…