Remembering can be bittersweet. It is like a taste that I can’t quite describe yet I know intimately.
In it lies all the textures of my soul: rough, smooth and everything else in between.
The memory of what I remember is sometimes a burden. I do not want to remember it, I do not want to feel all the feelings that come with the memory, but I do. All the unexplained feelings, the could haves- should haves and would haves that lie like dead weight at the top of the tongue waiting for expression.
Some of the memories are good, they fill the heart with joy. Some memories are sad, vacant tombs that vibrate with the hum of silence. I do not want to go there. I wish the brain would shut down and let it be. There is a struggle between my will and the brain, often I lose the battle and remember the things I wish I didn’t. With death & loss there is no filter, the brain somehow doesn’t allow for it.
There have been times when the numbness and forgetfulness that comes with experiencing a loss have all been what I wanted to have. Not the memory of my loved one laughing, not of them being happy but the protection of nothingness. The nothingness that allows me to navigate the day to day activities until I feel strong enough to cope. Memory doesn’t work like clockwork, nor does it have an on/off switch that one can press at will, it comes when it chooses to and steals into my mind and allows a release of the memories that had been forgotten.
Sometimes I wonder- is what I’m remembering true or is it a made up account of events that allows me to cope when the pain of grieving is too much? I don’t know. Doubt and grieving seems to be friends, especially as time goes by. One is not sure that what one remembers. What I am certain of is that some memories are clearer than others.
These are the lessons I have learnt about memory and coping with grief:
- Good memories can be like friends that provides comfort when little else seems to fill that void. They can provide a source of emotional comfort that no-one else can give.
- Remembering painful memories doesn’t make one weak, over time it provides emotional strength and resilience to cope better.
- Often remembering helps me to maintain my special connection to my loved one. This can be done by looking at a photograph of them, singing their favorite song, wearing their favorite item of clothing or color, or smelling their favorite scent.
- Sometimes you do forget someone or an event that is connected to a loved one for a while, this is common when we are grieving. It doesn’t mean that we will never remember again.
- When memories are too painful, it helps to find a way to release them. This can be done by talking with somebody else or writing in a journal or doing some meditation or breathing exercises.
Overall memory & remembering is about having parts of our loved ones with us all the time, wherever we go in the world.