- It is important to remember those we have loved and lost. It’s normal to continue to talk and share our tears and laughter with those who knew them.
- Being creative can provide an outlet to remember your loved one and appreciate the life you had with them.
Will sharing the story of someone I lost help?
Continuing our relationship with our deceased loved ones may sound like a strange statement, but in my opinion, continuing bonds is a healthy way of managing life after the death of a loved one.
I actively encourage the bereaved families and individuals that I work with to talk about their loved ones and to share memories. Grieving can be isolating, and people can feel awkward about mentioning their names for fear of upsetting others. Once the awkwardness has been set in place, it can create a huge void where memories are no longer shared between family members, and stories are lost.
While working in a hospice with the terminally ill, I developed ways for the dying to capture themselves, not only for those closest in the present, but also for the future, so that younger generations (in particular, the children of dying parents) may know them. A lot of this work was done through journaling, art, storytelling, and music.
For the bereaved, I found ways of helping them continue their bonds by doing similar things. Sometimes people may be too quick to put their loved ones away, i.e., packing away their belongings and other personal memorabilia. It’s mostly driven by well-meaning friends and family. This can be incredibly isolating for the bereaved.
I encourage the bereaved to display photographs and leave personal effects around them so that others can continue to talk about them with ease, which could be a welcome opportunity for the bereaved.
I worked with a young man whose father died when he was twelve. Soon after, all photographs and personal possessions were removed by well-intentioned family members to prevent further pain. This left the child without any reference or conversation point; concerned about upsetting others, he withdrew and appeared to be doing okay. In my counselling sessions with him, he began to share his stories and memories and continue his important bond with his much-loved father.
When someone has shared a significant portion of their lives with us, they become part of the fabric of us, and when they die and leave, we can feel lost as we lose part of ourselves with them. That’s why it is important to remember and continue to talk about those we have loved and share our tears and laughter with those who knew them.
If you are grieving, being creative can provide an outlet and opportunity to remember your loved one and to talk about them. Photograph albums, letter writing, storytelling, memory walks, and listening to their favourite music can all be useful ways of continuing bonds.
Here is a poem reflecting the relevance of continuing bonds:
Leave the coat.
Alex James ©
Leave the coat hanging on the door.
The hat the bag the shoes they wore.
Allow yourself the space to grieve.
Indulge your pain when loved ones leave.
Tidy up another day,
But never put their space away.
Well-meaning friends may think it strange,
And pack them up or rearrange.
They may not know just what to say,
To help you pack your grief away.
But sometimes all they need to do is sit and listen,
Let you be you.
Help you talk, share your pain,
As gently present they remain.
Grieving never goes away,
It walks beside us every day.
Sometimes it feels a little less and others raw and more distressed.
But slowly as time moves on, it may.
And slowly we’ll put things away.
But the space they leave will always stay.
The space they leave will always stay.
Thank you to our contributors
Don’t hide your grief. Wear it, share it. AJ
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