Life wouldn’t be life without a few hard memories to shake you up. How we choose to remember those moments makes up the rest of our lives. I’ve been choosing to share stories, write, and explore the emotions I feel around certain experiences. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that each new milestone brings a different perspective on past experiences. This has led to newfound wisdom and awareness. When we take the time to honor hard memories, we allow time and space to (potentially) heal and find our way forward with the grief.
The first 3 ways I’m going to cover in this article came to me easily. They are things I do routinely to honor memories that make me sad (or mad). Additionally, they are how I have processed my own grief and helped countless others. I had to really work to come up with the next two. They may not be for you, but I encourage you to consider them and see how they may fit into your life. When I examined my own life, this is where I found these two threads.
What to expect
First, I need you to know that this article assumes a few things. I’m going to lay it out all for you so that you can implement at least one of these ways today. Assumptions made
- You are looking to honor and or write about a hard memory
- You have already decided that this is something you want to do
- You know that I am not a therapist
- You agree that these methods are not a replacement for mental health professionals
Awesome. Now we are really ready. 😍
Journaling to Honor Hard Memories
Ever taken a moment to write something down so you would remember it? That was the first few lines of a beautiful journaling practice. Journaling has always been my way of processing and getting through things that seem impossible. People are different, so you may need something else entirely (like rock climbing). However, journaling is a great place to start and something to try. All you need is a tool to write with and a few thoughts to record. This tool can be things like
- paper and quill pen
- pencil and graph paper
- fancy pen and dot grid paper
- your phone with a recording app
- digital journal and stylus
- classic voice recorder
- your favorite journal you have been saving since 4th grade (just me? Ok cool)
Where to Journal & Getting Ready
You get the idea. You aren’t limited to analog methods anymore. This means that you can journal literally anywhere and anytime. When you are ready to tackle hard memories, I recommend you find a quiet place where you feel comfortable and safe. Maybe light a candle or get a favorite blanket. Those things all seem to help me when I get ready to dig in.
Share Your Story
Now that you're taking some time to journal your thoughts and possibly feelings, don't forget to share your story. Whether it's making a public Facebook post or anonymously, knowing that someone else has or can read your story can be cathartic. I don't personally do this every time I journal. Usually, if I make a post about a hard memory, it's tied to a legacy article or concept. You could say that the Legacy Recorder is my way of sharing my story and giving myself an opportunity to process and move forward.
Sharing your story can be as simple as picking up the phone and calling someone you love to talk about it. Don't overthink it, just do it.
Reach Out to a Friend
This may seem unbelievably simple, but I bet it has been a while since you have reached out to some of your friends. If you've been waiting for a sign, here it is. take a moment to reach out to a friend who you share a hard memory with. Whether it's losing someone, traumatic historical events you both lived through, or something else talking to each other about it makes all the difference.
Dig into the History
This may or may not apply to your situation. It will all depend on what memory you are thinking about and wanting to work with. The idea here is to research the time, places, and people surrounding the hard memory. Sometimes watching documentaries or reading books about a time that impacted you, can help you process more of the emotions and grief.
Explore the Emotions
My reminder to you in this section is to tread carefully. Stay aware of your mental health and ask for help when you need it. I found that when I explore the emotions surrounding certain memories I find new things every time. The biggest thing I've had to remind myself is to be open to the fact that my emotions are allowed to change.
I don't have to feel the same way at 32 as I did when I was 18 about my dad dying. I can tell you that those emotions have changed more than a few times over the years. Everything from anger, sadness, relief, and guilt has been part of my grief journey. I would probably have (or do have) emotional whiplash if that was a thing.
The bottom line here, for me, is that we are allowed to experience different emotions each time we remember something. The key is giving ourselves permission to explore those emotions when we need to.
Why Honor Hard Memories
Why should we bother to honor hard memories? My answer? Because it's part of the human experience. Hard memories are part of our lives just as much as the happy beautiful ones. Additionally, remembering the hard moments gives depth to our stories and colors in the blank spaces in our storybooks. They are the moments we don't capture with our phones but are seen in looks we give our loved ones and the tightness of a hug too long not given. What hard memory will you share today?