All of us are touched by loss. In fact, one thing we can be sure of is that loss is a certainty. However, how we make sense of it and grow around it is anything but certain. There are so many ways we make sense of loss. And before we explore this some more, I think it is useful to be reminded that the amount you love does not need to equal the amount you grieve.
For example, do you remember a best friend from your early years, a bestie that you just couldn’t imagine life without? And now as you have grown and are older, you live apart. Notice how there is no sense of “missing” them. Instead you may even notice that just thinking of them brings a smile to your face and a glow to your heart.
Death need not be so different. Re-membering our loved ones helps us to keep them and their legacy alive. Enabling us to weave them back into our every day lives in their new transcended form.
By re-membering, we bring back aspects of the person who has crossed over back, into our lives through stories, food, music, scents. In other words, they re-enter our family in a different form. They become the guardian angel or wise ancestor. Or the brave cousin, sister, brother, aunt or uncle who once said or did ……
It is an act of love. And “love is the bridge to everything” (Rumi).
There are many ways to remember. Here are some of the ways I have used to re-member my beloved Oma whose live ended at 86 years. I was 43 years old. This woman was an incredible touchstone in my life. She had loved me half her life and I had loved her all of mine. Making sense of life without her here has taken some getting used to. I’m certainly not suggesting I have it all worked out (I don’t). But I know a few things about surviving after you bury your loved ones. I buried my daughter and my first love who was the father of two of my children and I did this before I was 20 years old.
I think it begins with a decision. A decision to live your life again. Once this is decided, then you are in a position to work out how to put the pieces back. They never go back the same. But all the parts are there and joy is possible.
It is said, we die twice. “Once when the last of our breath leaves our body and the second time is the last time our name is spoken”
Re-remembering them is key it keeps them close and you get to create fresh memories with them in their different form.
Here are some practical ways of re-membering:
- Create shrine and decorate it at various times. This is Oma’s shrine. It’s decorated for birthdays, I’ll put up cards she gave me on my birthday and write one for her on hers. I pick or buy flowers I know she would have liked and place them here. At Christmas and Easter her favourite celebrations, we decorate as part of our family tradition.
- Light a candle and imagine the light as a symbol of love.
- Spend some time looking through photos and sharing stories. Maybe even create a scrap book with children to create the space to share the stories.
- Write a letter. There can be something quite cathartic about transforming emotions and feelings into the written form
- Plant a tree, garden or create a special place in a meaningful way.
- Finish their projects (although if possible its more practical to help do this when they alive).
- Every day stories: Try these starters;
- I remember going to x with …….
- X was good at….
- X always used to…..
- One of the things X would say now would be……
- EG: kinder surprise at supermarket
8. Read their favourite books, movies, listen to their music cook their meals.
9. Invite them back into your family great new memories of them in their new form by imagining what they would say or do.
10. Tend their graves and create new memories around this level of care.
11. Take time to connect to them. It can even be in an everyday way, by using their everyday I have my Oma’s spoon and I use it to make tea everyday. And as I stir the pot I am remembered of her saying “do even the smallest with great love” it feels as if the tea I am preparing is infused with her message, and her legacy and of course love.
And love is the bridge between everything – Rumi