Losing a loved one is difficult, and grief is a highly personal experience. Some people worry that as they move on from their grief, they may forget about their loved one. What is involved in healing from grief, and what does this mean for your memories of your loved one?
Here is a closer look at grieving and remembering the person you lost.
What Is Grief?
Each person’s reaction to grief is different. There could be physical reactions, such as changes in sleep or appetite, crying, muscle tension, difficulty relaxing, restlessness, stomach upset and difficulty concentrating.
Some people might experience frequent thoughts of the person who died, whether it is happy memories that you’ve shared or regrets or worries and thoughts of how life will be without them. This may be accompanied by strong emotions such as sadness, relief, hope, or anger as well as spiritual reactions, whether it is finding strength in faith or questioning your religious beliefs.
All of these conflicting experiences can be part of grief, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve a loved one. Grief is a healthy process of coping with the loss of a person who has died, feeling comforted, coming to terms with that loss, and finding ways that you can adapt.
Does Healing Mean Forgetting?
Getting over grief does not mean that you are forgetting about the person who passed away. Instead, healthy grief involves finding ways that you can remember your loved one and adjust to life without them.
Some people worry that if they start to feel okay, it may mean they are forgetting their loved one. Others are concerned that no longer feeling the intense pain of grief means that life can move on without their loved one, and that is not something they want to accept.
For some, grief may be the only thing they feel that they have left connecting them to their loved one and that as that grief dissipates, they are losing pieces of their loved one.
However, it is important to keep in mind that your loved one’s memory does not live within the pain of your grief. Instead, it lives inside of you and is something you can acknowledge and honor every day of your life, whether you are still grieving or not.
Your loved one’s memory is alive in the things that they taught you, the memories of them that you share with family and friends, and all the things you do to stay connected to them, whether it is listening to their favorite song, making their favorite food or pulling out photos and reminiscing.
Resilience and adaptability are parts of being human. With time, your brain will learn to manage the intense emotional pain of grief, and that pain will start to ease as time passes. This is a natural process. Instead of thinking of it as your loved one disappearing, think of it as you learning to live with your loved one’s memory in a different way.
For example, shortly after the loss of a loved one, hearing their favorite song may be enough to bring you to tears and you may go out of your way to avoid hearing this type of music. Over time, however, the same song may bring a smile to your face as you remember how happy it made your loved one.
How To Remember Your Loved One
Healing from grief does not mean that you are forgetting your loved one. In fact, there are lots of great ways that you can keep the memory of that person alive, even as you move through life and start to feel a greater acceptance of what has happened.
For example, you might choose to place a photo of your loved one in a prominent place in your home so you can think of them every time you pass by. Perhaps you will have some of their ashes used to create artwork or a piece of jewelry so you always have them close by.
Some people might choose to remember their loved one by doing something that was special to them, whether it’s an activity the two of you shared together or something related to their favorite hobby or sport.
Maybe you’ll gather with loved ones to share their favorite meal, head to their favorite park, or play their favorite board game. There are countless ways you can remember someone long after the acute pain of grief has subsided.
Reach Out To Harbor Light Hospice
Grief can be difficult to navigate, so it is important to seek help if you feel you are having trouble moving on. You can get in touch with a mental health professional, join a local support group, or discuss your feelings with a religious or spiritual guide. Hospices can be a great resource for grieving families, so reach to Harbor Light Hospice for help managing grief and accepting loss.