The author of How We Grieve: Relearning the World, Dr. Tom Attig, talks with the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) about remembering as a key part of the healing process. Wherever you turn, you miss your loved one. There are gifts, photos, mementos, food, music, places, and occasions. From family members to friends, even your own reflection can trigger a memory. Reminding you of your separation is incredibly painful. The first reminders occur only once, and fewer occur over time. However, you never stop having first encounters. Fresh pain can surprisingly be brought up even years later. Still, you’ll grow accustomed to the sadness in the air.

Reminders also give you something special from your loved one. If you work through your hurt, you can connect with him or her. These companion memories can become savory. It’s a continuing presence of your loved one’s soul and spirit. It’s loved revived. You miss your loved one as you did when you were apart and both alive. As sorrow clears, your loved one returns to you. Remembering enriches the air you breathe.

A New Relationship

Don’t retreat to the past or dwell on separation. In the here and now, you are moved by and loved by the one you remember. The memories intertwine with other stories. Loving through remembering gives incredible values and meanings to your life. It’s a story like no other and can give life to your life. Returning to these memories gives you new rewards each time.

You can reinterpret meanings and delight in the mystery and life lessons the story holds. Remembering gives your loved one a renewed, vital presence in your life. You’re still in a relationship after separation. You can talk, praise, and forgive. Sensing that presence is a true gift.

Thomas Attig

Thomas Attig is the author of The Heart of Grief: Death and the Search for Lasting Love and How We Grieve: Relearning the World, both with Oxford. He has written numerous articles and reviews on grief and loss, care of the dying, suicide intervention, death education, expert witnessing in wrongful death cases, the ethics of interactions with the dying, and the nature of applied philosophy. For details on these other writings, and on his speaking services, contact him at his homepage.

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