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The Further Away I Get...

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I haven't posted in awhile and I am having a little glitch in the grieving process that I wanted to get off my mind. The further away that time goes by from my mom's passing which was Oct. 22, 2006, it seems to be harder for me to remember all the details that were ingrained in my mind for several months after her death. I had actually felt her presence so often and it actually comforted me. I don't know...this feels weird and different...like I really am so far away from her in my thoughts and it seems like I might actually "forget" things about her and that really freaks me out.

I'm actually doing well in the grieving process and have had a lot of joy with my daughters wedding a few months ago and just life in general...except this has me a little puzzled. I always refer to my mom in conversation, but the connection that I felt to her after her death isn't so strong anymore...like the light is dimming...kind of like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan. I'd like to think that this is just the natural ebb and flow of life and death and that this is what naturally happens after a death as the years move forward. I'd also like to think that this is my moms way of helping me move forward in my life here on earth as she was very much a part of life and wouldn't want me to be held back.

I am turning 50 on March 31st and my mom loved birthdays and celebrations. I would have loved so much for her, and my dad to have been alive to celebrate it with me and my family.

Thanks for listening...Lori

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Lori, dear ~

I think it’s only natural that, as time passes, certain of your memories will fade ~ especially if you don’t do anything to keep them in the forefront of your consciousness. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; some aspects of your mother’s last days undoubtedly were very sad for you, and to recall and constantly dwell on those bad memories could generate a great deal of suffering and anxiety. On the other hand, your fear seems to be that, along with all the sad memories of your mother’s death, you are losing a grip on the positive memories of your mother’s life as well.

I think it’s important to recognize that you do have some control over what you choose to remember and what you choose to forget. You can readjust your thoughts, and take delight in the loving memories you hold tenderly in your heart. You can incorporate your mother’s ongoing presence in your life by the specific ways in which you intentionally and deliberately choose to remember her.

I am reminded of Elaine Stillwell’s poignant comment, “If their song is to continue, then we must do the singing.” She encourages us to “find that special way that will allow us to sing our loved one’s song loud and clear . . . We all answer a special need from the sacred center of our heart that connects us with our loved one . . . Knowing you are doing something to keep your loved one’s memory alive keeps you passionately busy, allows you to tell your sacred story, adds joys to your heart, brings an array of beautiful, loving people into your life, and rewards you with a meaningful life again. Your loud voice will echo in many hearts making sure your loved one is never erased from memory.” [ Elaine Stillwell, in “Singing Their Song,” Grief Digest, Volume 2, Issue #4, p. 24]

You can bring your memories of your mother into your awareness by deliberately setting aside some time to think about her. Immerse yourself in memories. Use whatever aids you can find as cues: a photograph of the two of you together, a piece of jewelry, an article of clothing, a special gift or heirloom you received from her, or an important lesson you learned from her. What wisdom and encouragement did you gain from her?

In her wonderful book, Seven Choices: Finding Daylight after Loss Shatters Your World, Elizabeth Harper Neeld describes her conscious and deliberate decision to keep her memories of her deceased husband Greg alive:

A person who is gone can live on in memory as an active agent in one’s life, not just as someone you love and miss, not just as a nostalgic sadness. We make meaning of the memories. From the memories we extract values, ideals, insight, pleasures, awareness. This, then, was how Greg would fit into my life. I knew, for instance, that I would always care for my family in a different way because Greg had enabled me to see them in a new light. I would always feel more connected to the out-of-doors because with him I had learned new ways to see the woods, the mountains, the sea. I would always be more awake to the sensuous pleasures of life – colors, smells, sounds, tastes – because I had been able to experience them with him. And I would always know what love was, because he had loved me. I would always enjoy the opera and the ballet, which I shared with him . . . I would always like red geraniums by the front door and eggs scrambled with brie. I would always want to drive a clean car, and I would always ask if the saltwater taffy had been made on the premises.

-- Seven Choices: Finding Daylight after Loss Shatters Your World, © 2003 by Elizabeth Harper Neeld, PhD, pp. 256-257.

You can create a memory box with pictures, letters and mementos of your mother. Sit with its contents whenever you want to remember her. Revisit those places that hold special memories. Read some of your mother’s favorite books. Look through old photo albums or scrapbooks. Listen to her favorite songs or watch a favorite movie that you both loved. Let the stories and most pleasing recollections of your mother come into your mind, and find some way to share them, whether that is by writing them down or telling them to someone. Ask those who knew your mother to share their memories of her with you. Think of a word or phrase that will bring your mother into your conscious awareness, and use it whenever you feel a need for her presence.

In their important book, Re-Membering Lives, authors Lorraine Hedtke and John Winslade take memory-making even further. They advocate the deliberate construction of stories that continue to include the dead in the membership of our lives:

After someone dies our lives continue to unfold. We take on new identities, enter different life phases, and bring new people into membership in our clubs. The challenge of remembering conversation now moves beyond the task of incorporating memories and echoes of previous conversations with the deceased into our consciousness. It takes on a developmental focus to braid the posthumous with the living. Perhaps, we might introduce a dead grandmother to her newborn grandchildren and express the joy that she would share in the prospect of their lives. We might speculate about the meaning to her of events in the life of a family. We might consult her opinion on parenting in ways that we never had cause to while she was alive. In these ways, we might continue to populate our conversations with her voice and our consciousness with a richer range of voices than if we stuck rigidly to the voices of the real in the present. In these ways, she might continue to live on in her stories and even augment them along the way . . .

-- Re-Membering Lives, © 2004 by Lorraine Hedtke and John Winslade, pp. 85-86]

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I am finding that I am forgetting things too.

So I bought a notebook and put it by my bed, and I have started a journal.

I find it very comforting when I re-read things.

And when family tell me things about my dad that I just did not think of, I put it in my journal.

The thing that has very much comforted me is the advice my doctor gave to me, so I have kept this in my journal too.

Each day is still hard, but I do it one day at a time.

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Thanks so much Marty, I am moved to tears! Life is getting so busy now with other things and I'm glad for that, yet I miss connecting with my mom as I did so close after her death. It just isn't coming in as clearly anymore. But...spring is here and she loved the new growth and seeing how mother nature unfolds. I am going to think about that as well as other things that I know meant so much to her. Pictures also...I haven't looked through pictures in so long...it's time to do it again...maybe with a new perspective.

Thanks so much for such a loving response!

The journal idea is great, Midnight! I have one that I kept with "conversations" between me and my mom or dad. Somehow I have lost touch with it. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing to have other things going on and not thinking 24/7 about my parents...it's just wierd not to feel as in touch the further time get away.

I still love them very much, and I know that. I just have to get used to the fact that their lives are physically over and that memories are all I have. My friends tell me stories of how they remember my parents and than things become more clear. I guess it's all part of the process.

Thanks again so much. As always, I appreciate any responses!

Take care...Lori

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Hi LoriS....your posting moved me and I felt compelled to reply. You mention that your mom would want you to move on...I'm sure that's true...and you also mention that you do not remember your mom as clearly as you did several months ago...well, that's time working on us to naturally "move on". My mom died Aug 23, 2003, already almost 5 years ago and I still remember every second of that awful day from the hour before the phone call to that night. The immediate days afterwards are becomming blurry but that is supposed to happen. I think, since this is "new" for me...the feelings as time goes on somehow mellow...HOWEVER....I was struck into a crying jag a few weeks ago when a song came on the radio that my mom loved....Desparado by the Eagles....and I just cried and cried....I miss her terribly so I know how you all feel about missing your parents....but I don't think about it every day like I used to which is a blessing and a curse I suppose. I want to remember her, yet it is painful. Another thing that happens to me..when I'm in a public place and a woman wearing my mom's favorite cologne who is passing by will invariably cause me to weep uncontrollably when I smell it....so she doesn't want me to forget either...but the constant pain of missing her is not there any more...but the reminders are poingnant just the same.

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