At a recent support group meeting we were asked to bring something that was a keepsake belonging to our deceased loved one. Someone brought a special picture. Someone else brought an item their loved one had made, while another brought the locks of hair they had swept up after cutting their son’s hair shortly before he was killed in an automobile accident.
We all have keepsakes that remind us of our deceased loved ones. These keepsakes are actual, physical things. But there is a keepsake you can’t hold in your hand that may be a more precious treasure—the keepsake of our memories.
Our physical keepsakes eventually deteriorate over time, be it a picture, or craft or whatever. That is also true of memories, but as Ashley Davis Prend points out:
“It is true that memories become dimmer. But it’s also true that they persist. Your memories become like valued archives in your mind. Your loved one’s life cannot be erased, because it lives in the past, it lives in your heart… The memories will come at expected moments and unexpected ones. Some will bring you sorrow and some will bring you joy.”*
Though these memories may be archived we aren’t easily able to separate them into those that bring only sorrow and those which bring only joy. Most often there is a connection, so that, you can’t seem to have one without the other.
This the way I described it in the book my wife and I wrote:
“Joy and laughter were scarce in our home after Crystal’s death. On those occasions when joy would trickle in, it was often followed by a torrent of grief as the painful memories would flood in. Usually the good memories were overwhelmed by the realization that Crystal could no longer share those memories with us. One of the biggest hurts is that no longer can we say, ‘Crystal, remember when…?’ Yet, Crystal continues to live on, not only in our lives but in other areas as well.’’**
After eleven years the occasions of joy tend to be more than a trickle and though the painful memories still come, they seldom come in as a flood. Joy and sorrow still get mixed together at times, but that is not unlike life itself.
I pray that as time goes by in your loss, your memories of joy will increase and the painful ones will diminish. Those of us who have experience the death of a loved one know that we never get over it, but God helps us to get through it.
* Ashley Davis Prend, Transcending Loss, Berkley Books, NY
** Don and Iris Allison, Until It’s Crystal Clear