Memories May Be Painful...or Not

Memories are what make our lives unique. They become a part of who we are and hiow we define ourselves. When someone close to us dies, we may think memories only serve to make our grief more intense. We may even try to avoid thinking about the person or the experiences we shared for fear they will make us sad.


A few years after my husband died, I began dating a widower. We both liked to travel and had enjoyed many wonderful experiences with our spouses and families. He thought it would be too painful to travel now, especially to places he had visited with his wife, so after a while we began to travel to new places. Eventually we ended up in some of those places we had visited before with our spouses. And instead of being sources of pain, we found ourselves enjoying sharing those wonderful experiences together. The memories became more special...and we made new ones. Our lives were enriched with layers of good memories.


I have discovered that it is not the memories that are painful. Even when a death has just occurred, it is often the memories that are shared during the funeral time that bring the most comfort. No, it is the next statement we make to ourselves that is so painful. “I’ll never have those experiences with them again!” We remind ourselves of what is missing in our lives, and we feel sad.


It is a challenge to revel in our memories, enjoy pictures and retelling stories, and be grateful for them. But being able to do that means I get to keep that person alive in my heart and life. I don’t want to forget anyone who has been special to me and helped make me who I am. My memories are comforting, and give my life meaning. I am grateful for everyone who has added to my life. It’s OK if I’m a little sad, too, sometimes.



Priscilla Leavitt,  PhD, LPC



Dr. Leavitt is certified in marriage & family therapy, grief & bereavement, hypnosis, stress & Christian counseling. A popular speaker & Executive Coach, she uses her expertise for healing clients & teaching professionals.


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