Remembering the person who died is of utmost importance to most of us. Many of us fear that memories will fade. Usually it is comforting to share stories, look at photographs, or take part in activities that make us feel connected to the one who died. In addition to all the other things that grieving is it is certainly a time to reminisce and hold the deceased in memory.
During a period of bereavement, remembering can be bittersweet. Though it provides comfort, it makes us face the reality of our loss and can evoke pain. Our natural tendency to avoid pain may lead to ambivalence about activities that induce it. We may attempt to regulate activities and interactions with others that may solicit or evoke our memories and arouse our pain when we are not ready. Designating specific time and place to remember and mourn is a way to allow for and regulate the natural cycles of grief. It provides an outlet for the abundance of thoughts, feelings, and other grief reactions that build up inside of us.
Establishing a routine of devoting time for thinking of and reminiscing about the deceased eases our pain. Remembering, in conjunction with feeling and purging our grief via activities that affirm the meaningfulness of our shared life, and the loss of the deceased, reduces our fear of forgetting. Acceptance of the irrefutable reality of the death grows as we integrate our memories and meaning into our life as it is now.
Acceptance of, and adjustment to, this reality are ultimately necessary for a healthy progression of our grief. Whatever our spiritual beliefs about life after death, the deceased is not present in our everyday life in the way she/he was. It is a natural part of the grief process for disbelief about the death to diminish as you continually confront the reality over time, and actively mourn. As the disbelief fades, and acceptance of the death grows, the full scope of the loss is realized and your sorrow may deepen.
Many of us experience deepening sorrow as "feeling worse" than at an earlier time. Even so, it is a logical, healthy progression for deep sorrow to follow our full realization of the loss. The growing acceptance that parallels the deepening sorrow helps ease the suffering associated with grief. You will have more energy to focus on the adjustments necessitated by the changes to your life. Greater acceptance and suitable adjustments will enable you to remember the one who died while having a greater sense of peace about being without them.
A healthy progression of grieving allows us to come to a time when daily life is not dominated by the pain and disruption of grief. Remembering, clarifying and honoring facilitates the progression. “Staying busy” and “moving on”, pretending we are unaffected by our loss often keeps memories painful and prolongs the grief.
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