I recently saw the new film, “The Great Gatsby” – it’s a breath-taking, jaw-dropping, and thoroughly enchanting representation of the novel. I absolutely loved it and walked out of the theater feeling far more haunted by the idea of Gatsby than I ever had before.
I was caught by the memories, hopes & dreams that Gatsby clings to and works so hard to make come true. I won’t spoil any of this for you in case you haven’t read the book or, like me, couldn’t remember most of it, but I want to talk about this idea of how when memories and dreams from the past are remembered to us, they cease to be things from the past and become instead, part of our present & future.
It seems that in America’s grief culture there is a lot of stigma about talking about the dead. If you make reference to your deceased loved one you’ve probably encountered some people getting uncomfortable or not knowing what to say back to you. Society wants the past left where it is, they want to ignore grief and leave the dead buried.
Dr. Bill Hoy has stressed that talking about those who have died is one of the most healing and appropriate things we can do in recognition of their death and acknowledgement of their life. They were once here and if we don’t talk about them, it can feel like their memory is trying to be erased or forgotten.
My encouragement to you is to not feel guilt about these memories and sharing them with others. Don’t leave your family in the past, bring them out into today, into tomorrow with your love of them, your stories, and the dreams that you shared together.
Sharing these stories doesn’t mean that you’re “stuck in the past” or “not making progress” – these are horrible & callous ways that people who are uncomfortable with grief try to urge others out of their bereavement. Don’t give in to that thinking, but also make sure you’re surrounded by friends & family that can hear your stories and enjoy them. Perhaps a support group is the best place for you to have this freedom. We’ve recently updated our listings of support groups so click here to see what’s available locally.
Remembering is one of the great gifts our minds give us. And yes, while it is important to move in your grief, to not remain stagnant or stuck, it’s our natural function to remember happiness, beauty, love & relationships. Enjoy them, even if they are “behind” you.
What have been the best ways you’ve found in sharing your memories?
Do you write them down, attend a support group, have coffee with a friend every week?
Share your story . . .
My childhood memories had my Nana woven through every inch of them. Thinking of her and reminiscing brings great joy to me still. She has been gone almost 18 years, and I love telling the story of Nana and I to my own children who were too young to remember her love. I can tell you that I look forward to being Nana to my own grand babies. I miss her terribly, and still shed tears when some things come to mind. It’s not that I haven’t moved on, it’s the imprint she made on my soul. I am so glad the impression of her life left a mark not easily eroded over time. As for Gatsby, I shall pick up where I left off before I see the film.
When sharing family stories about your family, occasionally get a family member to record some of the stories on video. Our website http://www.TheBestMemorialService.com, has ideas, suggestions and materials to make it an even more rewarding experience that your family will appreciate for generations to come.
Molly — I never read the book or saw the movie, The Great Gatsby, but now I want to! I really appreciate your insights into how helpful and important it is to have the freedom to continue to remember and talk about loved ones that have passed from our sight. I agree with “Dr. Bill Hoy that talking about those who have died is one of the most healing and appropriate things we can do in recognition of their death and acknowledgement of their life. They were once here and if we don’t talk about them, it can feel like their memory is trying to be erased or forgotten”. I know firsthand this is true for me. The love of my life (my husband) and his sister (that I adored) died over 40 years ago and I never hear their names anymore and sometimes it feels like society would like me to “move on” and not talk about them anymore. I have also lost almost all of the older close relatives in my life, including my parents, and I am the oldest living generation in my family (hard thought!). But as you said, and I agree that it is important not to “just leave your family in the past, but we should bring them out into today, into tomorrow with your love of them, your stories, and the dreams that you shared together.” When I am able to do this, I feel like I am healing all over again and I am able to keep their memory alive in my mind and heart.
Wow Sharon, I didn’t know almost any of that about you. You have experienced more loss than most people and knowing you are the oldest must be a difficult thing to realize, as you said.
I remember Bryce telling me a while back how different my family was for talking about my grandpa all the time; he died the same month I met Bryce. We naturally bring him up in conversations, good & the not so good memories, but it keeps him alive to us and I know has helped me immeasurably. I’m glad that Bryce has a sense of who my grandfather was and that even though he never met him, there is a sense of respect and understanding.
I would love to hear more about your family & your story. Thank you for sharing & for being so open about your life. I wish I could’ve met your husband, I’m sure he was wonderful !