My all time favourite memory is of a family holiday on a beach when our children were young. When I think about it now, I am back there amid the sights and sounds and seaside smells. I can time travel and relive that wonderful time in my life once again. Over time memories are destined to fade but we can keep them alive by just practising them through our thoughts using our imagination. I practise this one quite often!
Memories can be good or bad depending on the experience at the time they were made, and they are mainly stored in the hippocampus, the emotion centre, and the prefrontal cortex at the very front of the brain.
For quite a while after Matthew’s death these good memories were a trigger for me, and I could be bought to my knees just by thinking about them. They were almost as painful as the bad memories. When grief is new and raw it seems like everything is a trigger but as we start to grow around our pain we build in resilience and strength.
Even 3 years and 8 months on I can still be consumed with sadness when I think about my good memories, but I am learning to interrupt the process now. When those good memories were made, there wasn’t any sadness – Matthew was alive and it was a happy time, but grief has a sneaky way of attaching itself to these good memories.
The best way to deal with this is to fully immerse yourself into the memory.
When you think about a memory of your loved one, do you see yourself in that memory? Are you observing the memory? This is when your mind can alter, delete, or forget important information. Do not see yourself in the memory as an observer, imagine you are immersed in your memory. Relive it as if you were looking through your own eyes and smell the smells, hear the sounds, sense the energy now in your body, feel yourself there, be in that moment – in that memory. The deep sorrow you feel from your present-day grief was not part of your life then. This exercise helps you to connect to your loved one in a much healthier way.
The good memories we have of our loved ones are the gifts they have left behind for us to keep.
Go through your photo albums, look at their pictures and feel your loved ones with you. Honour your loved ones by connecting to the love you hold inside for them and remember their smiles, their laughter, remember the good times. When you fully immerse yourself into this energy you will send them peace beyond belief.
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun.
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.
Helen Lowrie Marshall