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how do you remember

January 30, 2018

A couple of months ago, I had lunch with a friend and we talked about the fact that grief is both a personal and universal experience.  We all grieve (in this case I’m specifically referring to grieving the death of a person); and yet even when people are grieving the death of the same person, that experience is entirely personal and unique.  No two people remember that person the same way or experience the loss in the same way.

And so the question of how we remember the people who are no longer here becomes challenging.  When you realize that your experience is different from others who are also grieving, one can be hesitant to talk about the moments or ways that you find yourself remembering or thinking about that person.  We can hesitate to share or talk about this with others maybe partly because we don’t want to be the person who makes them sad (on a day when they may be less sad) and maybe also partly because we know our memory is special to us and perhaps not so meaningful to someone else.

And yet I wonder if we might all feel a bit less alone in our grief, if all of us were to talk more about the people who are no longer here and when/how we remember them.  Because while our experiences and memories are personal, grief is universal, and in sharing we can be reminded that we are not alone, even if the stories are different.

Here are a couple of my memory stories.  Some I have shared with others who also cared about the person.  Some of them I still need to share.

I have a muffin recipe that was hand-written over 20 years ago by a friend’s mother who has since died.  I think of her every time I make those muffins and how I came to have the recipe.  One of the last times I made the muffins, I took a picture of the part of the recipe card where her mother has written “Good luck” and her name, and texted it to my friend.  She appreciated it.  

This morning I remade the bed in my spare room.  I thought of the friend who helped me sew the duvet cover.  Memories of the time spent in sewing with her made me smile.  I think of her often, I know others do too.  But I still need to find ways to tell others about these times.

When I see that sap from a tree has dripped on someone’s car, I think of the friend who was once very frustrated when this happened to his car while parked at another friend’s cottage.  In this situation, I often chuckle.  When I share this with others who knew him, they chuckle too. 

How do you remember?  When do you think of the people who aren’t here?  Who else might appreciate hearing about your moments?  Despite how it may sometimes feel, in grief you are never entirely alone.  Grief is personal.  Grief is universal.



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