God gave us memories so that we might have roses in December.

J.M. Barrie

Memories are cherished moments from the past that we hold close to our hearts. They allow us to reflect on good times. Perhaps your favorite memory is your wedding, the birth of a child, a special vacation, etc.

Memories can make us feel really good. However, they also have the potential to make us feel really bad.

After the death of a loved one, grief triggers may bring up involuntary memories related to the loss. Many of these memories are harmless. However, if they involve a deceased loved one, memories can feel like weapons.

They might hit you as you’re sitting at your desk, driving to the store, or listening to a song.

Even though they seem random, they are usually triggered by a sight, sound, song, smell, or word.

I didn’t understand how painful these grief triggers could be until I saw first-hand how they affected someone.

My boyfriend experienced these involuntary memories after he lost his mother. During the first few months after her death, they would bring him to tears. He would have to stop what he was doing because he felt paralyzed by the pain. It was hard to watch him experience such intense grief.

As the months passed, they became less frequent. It has been over a year since her passing, and he is now able to share these memories with me instead of shutting down. I asked him the other day what had changed. He responded that while they still caused him sadness, they serve as reminders of her. He is able to look fondly on the past rather than with sorrow.

I felt this message should be shared with others. While these grief triggers may cause you to feel anguish, they have the ability to fill you with a sense of love and remembrance. Memories are where our loved ones continue to live after they are gone. This is the reason why we hold onto objects that remind us of them and go to places where we feel closer to them. Although we are at risk of memories triggering pain when a loved one dies, we can allow them to comfort us instead.

Written by: Paige Muttillo | Marketing Manager | Catholic Cemeteries Association

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