We are More than Our Self.
When we reflect on who we are as a person, we so often think in terms of our own self—our gifts, our values, our preferences, our skills.
But we are very much who we are as a result of the memories made within the relationships of our lives. We are shaped by what gave us joy, contentment and safety in our early life. Or by what was missing and left us feeling uncomfortable or unstable—anxious, unable to find joy and inner peace. As life goes on, the memories stack up, like walls of a lego house punctuated with the colours we love as well as a few that feel unhappy.
That is a huge topic. I have no wish to tackle the whole thing today—but here is a tiny slice taken from the meaning of the bigger picture of how memories "make us" who we are.
When someone dies, you lose the option and opportunity to continue life with them. You no longer have the "looking forward to" part of life with them. You stop the making of memories and only have what was behind you. And that is a major hole.
But in our grief, sometimes we forget—I absolutely forgot and lost site of this in my loss—that the memories you hold with value are yours forever. Some of those memories happened before you had the capacity for remembering (preverbal memories). Yet they formed you.
No one can take away those times, or the way they impacted you. The joy they created within you. You—the you of today—is still connected to the lost person by the memories you created together.
The person who has left may feel "gone"—but the relationship is not gone. It is preserved (only in part, but at least in part) by the memories you carry. Grieve the loss—yes. But also be aware that some things can never be lost.
They are a part of who you are, and always will be.
I write on how humans develop and grow through challenges we face. I've divided this into three categories--Growing Love is about relationships and how we create conditions for growth despite the inevitable challenges. Cloudburst is about grief, specifically—which is a tricky topic. We need to keep growing but pushing is the opposite of helpful. And in Dancing on Hot Sand I talk about personal inner growth in hard places—spiritual growth, without sounding religious, I hope.