It seems to be a time of year for remembering. All Soul’s Day, All Saints Day and Remembrance Sunday are around the corner.
“Good people are remembered long after they are gone” the Bible tells us. (Proverbs 10:7 CEV)
What is goodness but love?
What is grief but a continuation of love?
I enjoy that song made famous in Moulin Rouge that contains the lyrics:
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
There are so many kinds of love.
The love of a child for its parent; the love of a parent for his or her child.
The love of siblings.
The love of a partner or romantic friend.
The platonic love of friendships
The love of our pets
The love inside families that intersects generations
When our loved one is no longer with us, we may express our love through our tears…
… Or in a myriad of other ways.
Enjoying and reflecting on the memories of our loved ones causes them to live on in a sense. Of course it doesn’t come anywhere close to having them here with us at our side, but at least it’s a way of having a continued relationship of memory – what is sometimes called ‘continuing bonds’.
Most of us figure out ways of doing this that are meaningful and appropriate for ourselves, but if you’re looking for some new ideas, I invite you to visit the website of The Compassionate Friends and download their new “Handbook of Ideas for Remembering our Child”. (Free of charge)
These ideas can of course be adapted for any relationship.
I had the privilege and joy of helping to work on this project – actually something that came about as a result of a folder of ideas I use at my retreats. Someone who read it commented:
As I read through [The Handbook], I found myself becoming quite emotional, not so much with sadness but more because it offers so many diverse and positive activities and avenues to remember and reconnect with our children. I think many of us can become a little static with our grief after a few years, not changing or even looking so much at the photos we have around the house, not going into our child’s bedroom very much or connecting so much with their possessions, instead doing more just day to day living and managing our ‘new normal’ – your handbook opens up new ways and ideas to re-engage positively with our child, who they were and the life they had – thank you so much”.
Of course, there’s always another side. Sometimes memories are too painful. Sometimes we don’t want to reflect back. That’s okay too. There is no obligation. Love takes many forms, and self-care is also part of love. Sometimes our self-care means focussing on the present and not those who are absent.
But for those who want it, this season of remembrance is as good a time as any for embracing the memories of our loved ones.