“Mommy, do you think Aunt Shana would give me lots of hugs if she was here?” My son, Jack, asks questions that pull at my heart at times. “Yeah bud, she would have loved you to the moon and back.” His question caught me off guard as we were peddling our bike into town. Man, would my sister have adored him a million times over and then some. It has been over twenty years since I’ve heard Shana’s voice, saw her smile and hugged her. I miss her every day. But what have time, life and loss have taught me? Remembering loved ones is a gift we can pass onward as a means of remembering, honoring and keeping the memory of those we love going beyond our life time.
Remembering loved one’s is a gift
This wasn’t an epiphany that registered over night. It has taken time and lots of it. Loss hits each of us differently. Grief can feel like a dark hole with no up, down, beginning or end. It can feel all consuming. Each of us who have faced grief met it under different circumstances, with a different set of eyes and emotions.
For some of us, it’s really hard to talk about our loved ones a few months to years later. For others, talking about the person we love eases the hurt. I believe, when the time is right finding ways to remember and keep the memory of the one’s we love alive is important for us, for them and our loved ones.
Giving our family & friends the green light
As human beings we can be super duper uncomfortable when it comes to knowing and loving someone who has experienced a loss. We can feel awkward. There’s the fact that we hurt for them, but don’t have the right words to say. Can we mention the person’s name? Should we? Shouldn’t we? It’s ok to realize there are ways to navigate positively through knowing someone who is grieving.
When we are comfortable and ready, talking about our loved one sends a green light. It’s ok to talk and mention that person’s name. This can bridge gaps and allow for those around us to realize saying or repeating the person’s name is ok. It kicks out the elephant in the room and makes for a heck of a lot less awkwardness. Bottom line, people really won’t know unless we utter that person’s name first.
The gift of life
I want my son to know who my sister was. I want him to know how she had the best smile, would spin in her hammock chair until she got dizzy, loved watching the stars on top of our roof, and would drive in the middle of the night with me to the shore just to watch the sunrise. It’s wanting Jack to know my sister because she is, and will forever be, my sister. She is part of me as I am of her.
For him to not know her other than name would be a great disservice. She would be limited to a mere picture and, to me, that’s unfair because she was so much more than that. Shana is not here physically, but it is through keeping her memory alive that she will carry on. I believe when we refrain from sharing and passing these memories onto our kids, our siblings, etc. they lose out big time. There is significance in remembering our loved ones.
Please don’t get me wrong, sharing and talking about someone who isn’t here anymore can be tremendously painful. It can hurt. What I’m saying, is that when we do choose to take that step allowing our loved ones to have a better glimpse of who that sibling, parent, best friend, etc. was allows our family members to know more about their family, their past and themselves. It breathes life into a picture, a voice in a home video, etc. It makes them a person, which they will always be. If we allow their memories to become grainy or even vaguely existent in the eyes of our loved ones it is a disservice to them and to our loved ones who are no longer here.
Whether it was three months ago or thirty years ago just the thought of that person can make you want to laugh, cry and clutch your heart all within the same breath. Grief is crazy like that. When we make the decision to take that step to remember and reflect on that special person it’s ok to also have a strategy that will help us with our mindset and outlook.
Remembering our loved ones is a gift
So we know this isn’t easy, but we also know that it’s important. Realize this, don’t place yourself under a strict timeline. Work with what is good for you and what your heart can handle. It may start with taking out a notebook and jotting down memories and thoughts that will eventually (or maybe not) be shared with someone else. It may be taking that step in sharing a memory with someone you trust and are comfortable with. Remember, you do you and what stride you need to take.
I sat with my four year old on his bed holding a picture of my sister. He said with a big smile, “that’s Aunt Shana.” Without skipping a beat I said, “yes it is bud. ” I know he knows that she is part of who he is, that she is special and that Shana is so much more than just a picture.
My question, to you the reader, how do you address losses you have faced in your lifetime? Do you share about your loved one or is it too difficult? What are some healthy ways to bring that person you love into conversation with friends or loved ones?
I would love to hear from you and know your outlook and opinions on a topic that we can all learn and grow from.
Please feel free to share with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org