As committed as I am to find joy again, I have often struggled to find balance between moving *forward* (bringing my memories with me) and moving *on* (leaving my memories behind).
There are benefits of both. On one hand, I want to always remember the wise but mischievous twinkle in Julian’s eyes, and his sweet voice asking me to “go fast like a jet!” when he wanted me to do something quickly. On the other hand, I’d be happy to forget the details of his terrifying last day in the hospital when I was totally and utterly powerless to help my son.
Then yesterday, it hit me. The way to find the balance between moving “forward” and moving “on” is to make the distinction between “mourning” and “suffering.” When something reminds me of Julian (as many things do), sometimes it makes me smile and sometimes it makes me sad. If I start feeling sad, I ask myself, am I remembering something positive about him, and mourning that loss? Or am I suffering because I’m re-living something painful?
So far, this technique has made a big difference for me. Happy memories are great, and deserve to be contemplated and carried forward into the future. But when I recognize that I’m suffering, I force myself to think about something else, something that I love remembering about Julian. I choose to move “on” from the suffering memories. Those can stay in the past, they don’t serve me now.
I give myself permission to release and move *on* from the memories that make me feel sorrow or suffering. Besides, I have plenty of wonderful memories to bring *forward* with me into the future.
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April 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm
Emily is there email address I can write to you?
Leanne (Trebilcock) Avila
April 11, 2011 at 9:48 am
Nodding my head and thinking “Exactly” (if even from my own perspective). You can’t change the events, but you can choose how you respond to them.
April 11, 2011 at 10:44 am
It sounds to me like you have found a very wise way to find healing in the midst of this sorrowful time. Beautiful!
With love and care,
November 19, 2014 at 3:52 pm
My wife lost her battle with cancer 4 1/2 years ago. From the earliest days of my great loss I cringed whenever anyone would use the phrase, ‘moving on.’ I have always insisted that I was determined ‘to move forward’ as the notion of ‘moving on’ had the connotation walking away, leaving, ignoring. I have never been able to articulate exactly what I meant but knew in my heart to be true. You have articulated beautifully and simply what I knew but lacked the clarity of words to express. Thank you for affirming my experience and helping me frame my own thoughts more clearly.
December 28, 2014 at 2:03 pm
I saw a Joel Osteen sermon on tv this morning called “Moving Forward”. It spoke to me. But then I was a little confused between moving forward and moving on. My mother passed suddenly Nov 19, 2011. As an only child, I feel like I look half of my soul. I feel like I live in grief on a daily basis. I want to try something different…
Thank you for this blog entry.