When in mourning, our minds are flooded with images of our departed loved one. But our memories can be a blessing or a bane at times like these. There is a natural tendency for our most vivid memories to be ones about recent events. As a result, we may focus on the circumstances surrounding the death of our loved one rather than on the quality and span of his or her life.
But you can retrain your memory by using a few simple techniques:
1. Create a scrapbook in which you use photos and other mementos to recapture the highlights of your relationship with your loved one. You’ll find a wide range of scrapbooking materials at Amazon.com. There also are a number of online sites such as www.snapfish.com, www.smilebox.com and www.blurb.com where you can create a scrapbook.
2. Write a letter to the deceased in which you express thoughts and feelings you might not have had a chance to say while he or she was alive.
3. Set up an online obituary about your loved one’s life and invite family and friends to post their thoughts. There are a number of online obituary sites and many funeral chapels now offer this service.
4. Make a donation to memorialize your loved one at his or her school or favorite charity.
5. Start a journal. Use your journal to focus on your future plans; things you want to accomplish in your lifetime. Start looking ahead to better days.
6. Start meditating. You’ll find a wide range of inspirational thoughts at www.bibleversesbytopic.com
Be patient with yourself. There is no set timeline for mourning. The amount of time you spend grieving depends on your personality, your relationship with the deceased and many other variables, such as his or her age at death, and how he or she died. Some days and weeks will be better than others.
The calendar has a way of reminding us of our losses. Each birthday, anniversary and special holiday can trigger messy emotions. So plan ahead to spend those times with family or supportive friends.
Participate in a support group of kindred spirits who can empathize with you and share with you their own encouraging experiences.
Be sure to exercise, too. It need not be strenuous exercise. It might be gardening, cycling, golf or walking. Moderate exercise has been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep and relieve depression. It releases endorphins – chemicals called neurotransmitters – that act like sedatives.
If need be, seek out a grief counselor or minister who you can talk to in confidence about what you are feeling.