Early Memories in Grief

The first year after my husband died, when I thought of him my heart ached a pain I had never known so great. My memories of Peter were only of those final years with him sick, in pain, desperate and dying, and those horrible memories consumed me. My memories while in grief played over a recurring cycle of loss creating a pain so intense it shocked me.

A friend reached out to me this week and spoke of her memories in grief. She has experienced a lot of loss (why do I say loss and not the truth which is death) in her life. Her two brothers each died suddenly within just a couple years of each other. Her sister-in-law died a few years before these deaths. She’s had more loss as well.

She wrote, “One thing I have noticed through the loss of two brothers is that with each there comes a point in grieving where the memories no longer bring up horror but slowly become sweeter and happier. There is always the sadness but not that physical panic/horror feeling. Before I experienced loss like these, I remember someone saying, ‘at least I have memories.’ I always thought that could not be true. How could memories of someone gone ever bring you anything other than sorrow. But I now feel a lot of positive emotions when I think of my brothers. Does that make sense? Anyway, keep doing such great stuff! Hope all is well with you and your family.”

Memories After Recovering from Grief

With time and specific actions taken to recover from the pain of my grief, I came to a place where I have various memories of my husband, Peter. There are many happy memories of special times together, and there are memories of sad times, memories of times I got angry or he got angry (we were human after all), and memories of just every day plain life going on.

Even my memories of him dying are now mixed between the sweet, tender moments we spent together during his illness and the scary moments when we received frightening news; the peaceful moments when I trusted somewhere in my heart that all would be well; the sacred moments when we shared pieces of our deepest selves, and the excruciating moment when we acknowledged that we were about to part ways.

I have all these memories now. I get to keep them all. I get to keep Peter with me in a greater sense with all my memories.

With grief our early memories often bring up only sadness, even horror and often panic, remorse, guilt, anger.

Our memories cause us to question why this occurred. Why did it happen to us, and to them? Our memories bring us back to the final horrific image of our loved one, not our loved one as we knew them in earlier, better times.

Have You Passed Through Grief Or Are You Stuck In Grief?

If or when we pass through our grief, we get to have all the memories of our loved one. If we stay stuck in grief, we only get the sad, painful memories.

How do your memories of your special person feel to you today?

Do you feel horror, panic, remorse, or sadness when you remember your loved one?

Does a memory start out making you smile then quickly turn to sadness?

Can you now have happy memories of times with your special person and stay in that happy memory?

Do you have all the memories of the true relationship you had which contained happy times, sad times, and much, much more?

I know for sure that when we choose not to stay in grief but instead to pass through grief that we get to have more memories that bring us happier feelings. We get to keep all our memories and we get to accept and feel at peace with them all.

I wish that for you.