Did you know that your memories are not like a hard drive in your mind?

Memories go through a process of reconstruction every time we conjure them. When we remember something our nerve paths fire as if a fresh experience is occurring. And, memories can be amended, even added to! New information can come forward that might have been in the receding areas of your awareness.

Many grieving people worry over forgetting their loved ones.

Take this concern and actively work with it. I thought I might share a couple unusual ideas (aside from just looking at photos or reading old letters) that I have used and have seen others use with good result to keep those important people who are gone in a fresh and vibrant place in our minds…

One: Make a list of typical things that your loved one used to say. Practice saying these phrases with their tone of voice and inflection. Do not get discouraged if this seems hard at first, with some practice you will get better at it. Practice these phrases on a regular basis and add to the list. When you are with people that are fond of your loved one and you start to imitate them some wonderful moments can occur and you just might learn more stories about your loved one!

Two: Take a couple hours or a special day for “retracing steps”. Go on the commute that they would have taken, go by their favorite restaurant, pub, store, library, alma mater… try to see things through their eyes with your imagination. Take notes about what you discover.

Three: Take a more common photo and begin to write down a paragraph about it… what was going on, approximately when what the photo taken, what meaning do you find in the everyday event happening in the picture?

Take some time on a regular basis to nourish and feed your memory banks – when we are old our memories are what will bring us a lot of comfort.

Kim Go 2012

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Kim Go

I am an artist in the expressive, installation and performance arts. I write because of our shared cultural beliefs about loss offer far too few tools to people working with grief. When I was very young, I thought little about impermanence. Then, my personal encounters with impermanence grew to include such challenges as: my father's death in early childhood, a near-death experience in adolescence, divorce, fertility challenges, death of a soul mate and spouse and subsequent loss of access to stepchildren, mugging and assault, pet loss, job loss, suicide of two close friends, and geographic resettlement. Perhaps we have something in common... perhaps not. I have learned that the specificity of the loss does not matter as much as the condition of the heart to be open to others who are learning to be present and alive regardless of the impermanence in their story.

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