Monday, June 30, 2014

Do You Open the Door Or Close the Door On Your Memories?

When I walked through the door on my first visit to the grief support group the air was so heavy I had to catch my breath. Memories weighted the atmosphere and almost crushed me. But I went back each week and we slogged through the heaviness, leaned into those memories, rode out the waves of grief. And then, finally, the air lightened. Faces brightened. We started to remember more than the pain. We remembered the life, the goodness, the love. Choosing to remember and choosing to face those memories, became a way to deal with the pain.
But some individuals and cultures deal with grief by choosing to forget. Its like they shut the door to that period of life; take the pictures off the walls, get rid of all the person's belongings, start dating right away. . . I once read the story of a man who escaped the genocide in Rwanda and Burundi, Africa in the 1990's. The way his culture grieves is called gusimbura: you don't talk about the dead, you don't name them. You're reminding people and it's not acceptable.
How about you? . . . What do you think? Are you a rememberer, or a forgetter when it comes to grieving? I'm not asking if one is right and the other is wrong. Something tells me there's probably a time and a place for both. But, are you naturally inclined towards one or the other? Does one of these styles of grieving come easier to you than the other? Talk it through here in the comment, with your Lifeboat group, or print this out and take it to your neighborhood or church group. How do you feel about memories? Our culture usually insists we must grieve "properly" or it'll come back to bite us. But what's "proper?" Sometimes it's OK to put those pictures in a box and put it in the back of the closet. What plans or traditions do you think will help you?
Tributes are important for many people, so here on the WCP is a Memorial Wall. It's getting pretty long now, so each month, on the first Monday, each month's tributes appear as a blog post. It's a lasting tribute to your love, it helps others feel they're not so alone, and others will use it to praying for you. If you'd like to include your tribute too, please use these instructions. Once I receive your info, I'll post it as soon as I possible can.


  1. Grieving properly is getting all your emotions out. One needs to work through the emotions and memories. Shutting the door on memories keeps emotions in which is not good for metal or physical health. Even if I tried, I could not forget Joe.

  2. I'm not sure if this illustration is out of context or not.... but
    the Bible is full of remembering and speaking about the dead, I've never read in God's word that is wrong to mention the deceased or not speak about them. Many chapters in the Bible will start off by saying Remember Job or Remember Lot etc......However the Bible does make it plain that we should not try to contact the dead, seances, etc....
    What bothers me is when you mention their name in a group or a setting sometimes you get looks like "you're not to speak about them or it's some type of taboo, that's what really bothers me.
    This past Father's day my daughter put on FB a picture of her and her dad and said "love you and miss you"
    I received a phone call not speaking or saying directly her name, but the caller said "you must get on with life" well we are getting on with life, and what is so wrong with a simple tribute.

  3. Thank you for commenting, Michele and Anon. We'll never forget---and it's a comfort to know that God will not either. Dear A, you're right---there's nothing wrong with a simple tribute. That caller was not helpful at all.

  4. How can I close the door on the wonderful and not so wonderful memories we shared. I put together a photo/journal of our 36 years together. I love to take pictures, so I have many photos of the festive occasions and just of him around the house doing chores, outside shoveling snow and other candid shots. Also I have planted container plants in the yard he loved so well. I only used the yard to go to my car and back to the house. So now I am making his yard beautiful. I have also planted flowers in his work boots that he used to do part time landscaping at our church. I am trying to keep his memory alive.

  5. Yes, how can one close the door? Yet some do. I'm glad to hear that you've found ways to express and celebrate the memories, and in doing so you're transforming your surroundings with beauty. Please feel free to email some of the pictures to me at if you'd ever like to. I know we'd all love to see them and would appreciate your memories. AND you might inspire and encourage others to stir their talents and creativity too. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts and experiences today! :)

  6. I have discovered that over time, the bad memories fade away while the good memories have become more and more abundant, popping up when least expected. So much sweeter than the earlier feelings I felt and suffered through during the ambush days of raw sorrow. Posting loving remembrances on one's own Facebook wall is what FB is all about.Sure beats the one-way only political messages that I have had to scroll through. Some are just plain mean-spirited and their sources are questionable at best. Try using the option to place people with little regard to your expressions into another lesser used group, such as from "family" or 'friend" to "aquaintances". That way you can communicate what they like to hear and save those who care enough (close family & friends), into a supportive group for your conversation desires. "Proper" grieving is what brings comfort the mourner. I still post messages on my late husband's Facebook wall. July 4th is the date of our wedding anniversary :)


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