When loss causes your current life to be in upheaval and you lose a sense of who you are, it is your memories that will bring you clarity and restore your path ahead.
Memories make up more of who we are than any other part of ourselves. It is through memory that we learn to walk, read, play an instrument, type, and breathe. Our neuropathways in our brain control every aspect of ourselves through learned behaviors. New science even shows us that emotions have bodily responses associated with them. A heightened emotion will cause a memory to be more easily accessed than a normal memory. Repetition also helps to imbed ideas, rituals, daily activities, and facts into our brain. What we pour into our brain literally seeps out in our actions, thoughts, and bodies. Is it any wonder that memories are one of the most crucial parts of healing we have during a loss?
Even watching memories unfold in movies stirs our hearts. My kiddos have been watching Disney’s “Piglet’s Big Movie” every day now for the past 2 weeks. In the movie, Piglet is lost and the rest of the characters are trying to locate him utilizing the memory book.
My three-year-old son started handing out his drawings to us. “Here is a memory for you…and one for you…
” My daughter started coloring her memories in a notebook. She loves to look back at her drawings to tell you all about her day. “Mom this is when we saw that snail…and this is when daddy gave me a flower.” Memories are our gateway to the familiar, stir our hearts, and help us to feel connected to one another.
Here are some questions to ponder when you feel you have lost your way.
What is a tradition that I use to enjoy, brought me life, or made me feel connected to those around me? For example: try out camping again with your sister, that old trip to the coast that you took with dad or cooking with the family that meal mom use to make.
What is a daily activity that I use to enjoy, brought me life, or made me feel connected to those around me? For example: read that book you use to read to your little one, rock in that chair, or eat dinner at the table again with a friend.
What is a trait that I use to have that made me feel alive or connected to those around me? For example: allow yourself to be generous again, to smile at a comedy, or be free to solve a new problem.
What is a trait that my loved one had that made me feel alive or connected to those around me? For example: reflect on how they use to tell those same old jokes, be the best at calming your fears or support your endeavors.
What is a place that I use to enjoy, brought me life, or made me feel connected to those around me? For example: revisit that restaurant you use to frequent, that camping spot that was a family favorite, or that bench that you enjoyed.
What is a hobby that I use to do that made me feel alive or connected to those around me? For example: start knitting, running, or reading again.
Recognize that it is the continuing bond with your loved one through this memory that is a vital part of who you are and who you will become.
What is one memory that brings some clarity to who you are?
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