Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pop-up Memories of Our Children

Those of us who have lost a loved one have had what is called “grief bursts” from something that we may think about that overwhelms and saddens us. It is like a trigger; it can be a song, a smell, a familiar place or someone who looks like our loved one. It brings on emotions in all of us of sad or happy memories, from the initial stage of your grief. These bursts create an opportunity for us to express our sorrow over the death of our loved one. They do not tie to an event that goes along with the memory.

A “pop-up memory,” on the other hand, happens when you least expect it to and as your healing begins and the grief bursts subside. According to author and bereaved parent Nan Zastrow, she defines a grief pop-up as a kind of recognition that instantly recalls an event or moment in the life of the one who died that may have been a forgotten or buried memory. It doesn’t require a specific trigger, it often just surfaces, usually when the mind is peaceful and not focusing on any outside stimuli. The memory (usually a pleasant one) suddenly pops into your thoughts and may make you smile or giggle as you remember a story associated with the recollection. The important element of pop-up memories are the stories that come to the surface.

One pop-up memory I can think of happened when I least expected it to, as do most pop-ups. My daughter’s best friends had gotten their ears pierced when they were very young. I have never had pierced ears nor did my mother. She asked me over and over if she could get hers pierced. I knew it was peer pressure at work, and I always said “No.” Going through a friend’s jewelry box after she suddenly died when I was asked to help clear out her things, I looked at all the earrings there and suddenly, I saw a set that reminded me of one of Marcy’s earrings. One day in her teens she asked me if I still minded if she got her ears pierced. I didn’t like the idea, even then. “You’ll get infections,” I told her. “It’s not worth it.” Of course, I was the over-protective mother, and she begged and begged until I just couldn’t say no anymore. It was the way she did it that always makes me smile when I think of it. Yes, she did get one or two infections but eventually “that, too, shall pass” and it did. After she died, I went through her earring box and picked out the ones I could switch to clip-ons and now proudly wear them, always thinking of her vibrant smile when I, at last, conceded to letting her do what she wanted. She did look beautiful in pierced earrings for the rest of her life.

The good thing about pop-up memories is that you get to think about your loved one and hopefully, a happy time, so you can smile or laugh about it. If it is a good memory, you may want to tell it to those close to you. We always want to talk about our loved ones so they are never forgotten. These memories can bring great comfort and allows us to think of the great happiness they brought to our lives.

When you get a pop-up, you feel like you are right there again and it connects the past to the present moment in your life. Hopefully, these pop-ups will always occur, bringing sweet memories of our child. Merging the past and present confirms that our loved one lives forever in our hearts and our stories. Love never dies!!

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