On this Veteran’s Day all of us collectively take time to remember those we have lost in the past. Of course this is a day honoring people who have fallen in the service of their country, for those that have given their all defending the USA, but it is also a somber day of nationwide remembrance for all those we have lost as well. How can we not think of the people who are not with us when we are remembering brave veterans? How can we honor them and not honor the people they lost? How can we not feel the loss of everyone when we remember anyone?
So on this Veteran’s day we thought it would embrace the memories of those that we have lost. For those we have lost everyday may be a day of remembrance and we can sometimes feel overwhelmed by those memories. Or sometimes feel as though we are not doing enough to honor those memories because we are not remembering the person all of the time. We never completely forget those that we have lost, but our minds do sometimes move on to other thoughts and that is okay, that is normal, that is part of the healing process. Those times, though, that we do want to remember, that we do want to experience that person in our lives and in our hearts as we had when they were with us, there are some things you can do to bring that person back to the present with you, so to speak. Days like today are all about how we honor those we have lost, and to that end we have a few ideas for how to bring those memories to the forefront of your mind once again:
- Talk About Them – With family, with friends, with others that knew them, of course, but also talk about them to people who never got a chance to know them. This is a great way of keeping their memory alive as you are imparting a part of them, a part of your memory, a part of the impact they had on your life, to a new person. That person now carries their memory, perhaps only in some small way, as well.
- Talk To Them – Many might find this an odd idea, as it is not like they can talk directly back to you. Yet, in a way, they can. Talk to yourself as though you are talking to them, imagine them there with you and imagine what they would be saying, what they would be doing, what they would be feeling. Our loved ones leave a massive impression on our minds and hearts and we carry that with us everywhere we go, so we should embrace it sometimes. Let them be in the room with you in the only way you can and carry on a conversation with them and you may find it helpful, insightful, and satisfying as an exercise to remember them.
- Write Them A Letter – This technique has been common for as long as humans have been writing letters. Putting the words you wish you could say to them down on a page has a remarkable restorative power. It lets your mind make connections that you may not be consciously making and the act itself can be therapeutic. It does not matter how long they have been gone, you can always, always, write them a letter to remember. Of course if you are more comfortable on email then write them an email instead, or a text, or a note, or anything so long as you are writing it down you will get the same benefits from the remembrance.
- Visit a Special Place – A special place to them, a special place to you, or a special place that you shared are all good places to go. Places have a sense of memory all of their own, and the sights, smells, and feelings you get from those places are all ways to invoke specific memories. This does not mean you have to travel to Paris because that was where you went with that person, it could mean something as simple as going to a spot in the woods near your home that you used to walk with them. Or to a restaurant, movie theater, coffee shop, bar, park, store, or any other place you know they enjoyed or you enjoyed going to with them.
- Pick Up Their Hobby – Did the person you wish to remember like to go fishing? Did they like woodworking? Quilting? Painting? Cooking? Beer Brewing? Whatever it was they liked to do with their free time is a good thing you can take up in order to build a connection with them even after they are gone. Sometimes trying something they loved that you think you’ll not like at all can be an even more powerful way of connecting with them as you’ll really have to try hard to get into their head to understand what they say in that hobby and in this way you are forced to connect with them in a way you might not have ever done when they were with you.
There are no wrong ways to remember someone, and this short list of ideas is by no means exhaustive, yet they are all things you can do on this day of remembrance if you are still searching for something to do to help you remember them today. These ideas work everyday, too, and you can always seek out new ways to connect with someone you have lost later anytime. Know that it is sometimes hard to let the memories back in, but remembering is important and can be healthy, healing, and positive. And know, too, that it is okay to feel like you’d rather not remember all the time or even on a day like today. Grief and loss are different for everyone, and there is no time limit and there is no right or wrong way to do it. We offer these ideas for those that want to remember, but know that this process is never easy and can take a lifetime or longer to really figure out what works for you.
And on this Veteran’s Day we would like to say thank you to all those that serve. Military, police, public servants, volunteers, and everyone else who puts others before themselves.