Living with reminders after a Loss

Ann J. Beckwith Family Business

When you lose someone you cherish, their fingerprints, reminders of them, don’t vanish.

Grief over the loss of a loved one is not unlike the sea: a depth and breadth unfathomable at times; waves with an intensity to knock the breath out of you; a tide that laps incessantly (gentle at times yet ferocious at others); and unpredictable. The ache that feels crippling will ease as you work through reminders of your loved one. You will learn how to be kind to, and care for, yourself as you re-visit memories from the past.

After the loss of a loved one, these events–certain days, locations, objects, sounds, smells–can crash over you like a wave you didn’t see coming, leaving you feeling attacked and disoriented. These feelings are a normal part of the grieving process. In fact, while your reaction to these reminders may feel like a setback, this is a part of the journey and a necessary step in the healing process. The following tips may help you to embrace the time instead of dreading the moment:

1 Plan for the day. For the reminders you can anticipate (your loved one’s birthday or an anniversary), consider ahead of time how you would like to spend the day. You may choose to plan a gathering to mark the event, or you may prefer to schedule some form of self-care.

2 Honor their memory. Remembrances of your loved one may feel intense but could also be an occasion to pay tribute to their character, their contributions, and how they loved well. How can you carry your loved one’s legacy forward so that you and others might continue to benefit?

3 Invite others. Grief can feel isolating, and your journey is, after all, unique to you. Nevertheless, you do not have to move through this time alone. When you are missing your loved one, connect with a family
member or a friend who may appreciate reminiscing and being with you.

4 Share your feelings. The burden of grief is heavy, and you were not meant to keep your feelings bottled up inside of you. How you share your feelings is up to you. You may prefer journaling, or talking to someone, or even writing a letter to your loved one. The important part is to get your feelings out.

While healing from loss has no predetermined timetable, if you feel stuck in your grief and unable to manage day-to-day living, seek help from a mental health professional who can assist you in processing your experience and developing healthy coping skills. Reminders of a loss do not have to inhibit your healing; they can be a catalyst for personal restoration.

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