The fear of forgetting is a very real and common fear after having lost someone dear.
I can feel the depths of her pain radiating from her as she sits across the table, tears pouring from her eyes. “I am so scared I will forget him,” she sobs. “Is that crazy? I feel so crazy right now.”
My heart hurts for this woman and the pain and anxiety she experiences. While I have not experienced the same kind of loss as she, I have worked with enough grieving people to know that her fear is normal. Of course she doesn’t feel normal because her life has been turned upside down, but the fear she is experiencing is very normal.
Difficult to Explain
The fear of forgetting a loved one can cause great anxiety and is difficult to explain to others. After all, it is not that you are scared to forget their person…. you are scared you will forget the things that made their person so incredibly special to you.
It is the fear of forgetting:
The way they smelled.
The sound of their voice.
The way they laughed.
The feel of their arms wrapped around me.
The memories, both big & small.
The things they said.
The jokes they made.
The advice they gave.
All of the things that made them special.
Tips for Coping with the Fear of Forgetting
While you will absolutely never forget how much you love those you’ve lost, there are a few tools or techniques you may consider to help you keep their memory alive.
Journaling memories and thoughts may help you cope with the fear of forgetting. Whether you prefer to do your journal by hand or voice, on paper or electronically, publicly or privately, it is important to carve out a little time for yourself every day to sit down and record the memories you have. Of course it doesn’t matter if the memories are big, small or just random little memories- write what comes to you.
Utilizing a grief journal in the beginning that has writing prompts may help you sort through memories and emotions. You may also choose to grab a blank notebook to jot down memories as you think of them.
Tip: You might also consider carrying a little mini-notebook with you throughout the day so you can write memories down as they come to you.
Ask Friends to Help With Remembering
After you lose someone it is normal for friends and family to hesitate to talk about your loved one. Keep in mind, they don’t hesitate because don’t care or because they have forgotten. Rather, they do it because they are scared to upset you.
But, what they do not understand, is that you need them to help you remember! You need to hear your loved one’s name be spoken and listen to the memories that others have of him or her. While it can be difficult to explain your fear of forgetting, it may be easier to ask for others to simply share. One great way to do this is by asking friends on social media.
This doesn’t have to be anything formal or fancy, just a simple request for folks to share photos or stories with you. You will be amazed by the responses you receive!
Preserve Special Items
Everyone has those little items that remind them of people and memories they love. Photos, clothing, hats, trinkets, their belongings- whatever it is, hang on to it! And, when you feel like you are able to think through what they truly mean to you, browse ideas on how to best preserve them.
A Few Ideas include:
- Create a nice scrap book or photo album
- Create throw pillows or a quilt from his or her clothes
- Repurpose their jewelry into something special and new
- Make a shadow box with important belongings or achievements
Create a Place of Permanent Remembrance
Having a place away from the house, where you can physically go to remember and grieve your loved one is important to your healing. For many people that special place is the cemetery. For other people it may be a dedicated bench on the bike trail, at a favorite park, or other type of memorial garden.
Wherever your special place of remembrance is, it is important for it to permanently honor the memory of your loved one. Whether you choose to erect a headstone, dedicate a tree with a plaque, or engrave their name on a paver- having a permanent record for all to see is an important part of ensuring that you never forget.
There are so many ways to keep the memory of a loved one alive. You may find, as time goes on, that you develop your own little ways to preserve and share memories. If you need help creating a permanent place of remembrance, check out my free, downloadable Memorial Creation Journal.
Addressing the Fear of Forgetting
If you find that your fear of forgetting is causing you to live or think differently, it may be time to consider getting professional help. Grief counselors are a great resource for this fear. You may get a great grief counselor recommendation from the local hospice provider, funeral home or your place of worship.
What have you found that helps you? Drop a comment below and share it with us! Others may find it helpful too.