I could feel the pain radiating from her as she sat across the table, tears pouring from her eyes. “I am so scared I will forget him,” she sobbed. “Is that crazy? I feel so crazy right now.”
My heart hurt for this woman and the pain and anxiety she was experiencing. While I had not experienced the same kind of loss as she, I had worked with enough grieving people to know that her fear was normal. Of course she didn’t feel normal because her life had been turned upside down, but the fear she was experiencing was very normal.
The thought of forgetting a loved one can cause great anxiety and can be difficult to explain to others. It is not that you are scared to forget their person…. you are scared you will forget the things that made their person so incredibly special to you. It is the fear of:
What if I forget…
The way they smelled.
The sound of their voice.
The way they laughed.
The feel of their arms wrapped around me.
The memories, both big & small.
The things they said.
The jokes they made.
The advice they gave.
All of the things that made them special.
While you will absolutely never forget how much you loved those whose memory is so special, there are a few tools or techniques you might consider to help you keep their memory alive.
Whether you prefer to do your journal by hand or voice, on paper or electronically, publicly or privately, it is important to carve out a little time for yourself every day to sit down and record the memories you have. It doesn’t matter if they are big memories, small memories, random little memories- just write what comes to you.
You may choose to utilize a grief journal in the beginning that has writing prompts to help you sort through memories and emotions, or you may choose to grab a blank notebook and jot down memories as you think of them.
Tip: You might also consider carrying a little mini-notebook with you throughout the day so you can write memories down as they come to you.
Ask Friends to Help
After you lose someone it is normal for friends and family to hesitate to talk about your loved one. They don’t hesitate because don’t care or because they have forgotten. Rather, they do it because they are scared to upset you.
But, what they do not understand, is that you need them to help you remember! You need to hear your loved one’s name and listen to the memories that others have of him or her. One great way to do this is by asking friends on social media.
This doesn’t have to be anything formal or fancy, just a simple request for folks to share photos or stories with you. You will be amazed by the responses you receive!
Preserve Special Items
Everyone has those little items that remind them of people and memories. Photos, clothing, hats, trinkets, their belongings- whatever it is, hang on it! And, when you feel like you are able to think through what they truly mean to you, browse ideas on how to best preserve them.
A Few Ideas include:
- Create a nice scrap book or photo album
- Create throw pillows or a quilt from his or her clothes
- Repurpose their jewelry into something special and new
- Make a shadow box with important belongings or achievements
Create a Place of Permanent Remembrance
Having a place, away from the house, where you can go and remember and grieve your loved one is important to your healing. For many people that special place is the cemetery. For other people it may be a dedicated bench on the bike trail, at a favorite park, or other type of memorial garden.
Wherever your special place of remembrance is, it is important for it to permanently honor the memory of your loved one. Whether you choose to erect a headstone, dedicate a tree with a plaque or engraved stone, or engrave their name on a brick at favorite place to visit- having a permanent record for all to see that he or she lived an amazing life is an important part of ensuring that you never forget.
There are so many other ways to keep the memory of a loved one alive. You may find, as time goes on, that you develop your own little ways to preserve and share memories. If you have found a creative and helpful way, drop a comment below and share it with us! Others may find it helpful too.
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