“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” The Giver, Lois Lowry, 1993.
I want to share a secret with you. A secret that I have been holding some time now. This secret, if you cherish it and remember it when caring for others’ sorrows, has the power to heal. It has the power to give healing to others who have suffered the loss of a loved one.
Here is the Secret…
Ask them to share their memories of the person they are grieving.
Ask them to tell you one of their favorite things about their loved one.
What memory makes them laugh?
What memory makes them cry?
What memory do they cherish most?
You will bear witness.
Listening to their story as they share this memory with you, will bring light to places in their soul where darkness has gathered for far too long.
My loneliest experience since my brother’s death has been the realization that he took our shared memories with him. No one holds them with me now. I am the sole bearer of memories we shared in our childhood, of our parents, of our times together as a family of four.
This loneliness is unlike one I have ever felt before. I don’t ache for companionship, or a friendly telephone call, or someone to remember me in a special way. No, this loneliness is deep…deep in my core – an ache to be remembered as I was before.
An ache to be known as a child, a teenager, a sojourner in our life as missionaries. Corry was there for most of it. No one…no one…shares our memories but he and I. For that I am deeply sad, and at times the loneliness seeps in and paralyzes me.
It is so difficult to explain. Those of you who have been there, understand.
It wasn’t until I read the words above in Lois Lowry’s book The Giver that I found the words to capture what my heart was trying to say.
Memories are meant to be shared.
Why is that?
I think of the ancient Old Testament texts where Moses and the prophets recount the memories of generations past – evidence of God’s soveriegnty and presence through the ages. They recount and list the events that transpired from one generation to the next asking everyone to remember.
All in an attempt to remember and share those memories with one another. There is a reason for it.
Galatians 6:2 states, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”.
There is a greater purpose. We share memories because that is what we are called to do. Absence of shared memories produces loneliness. We fulfill the law of Christ when we share our burdens with one another.
And, for some, the burdens are memories of times past.