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The Importance of Memorials

Ahead of our Lights of Love ceremony on Monday 29th November, Laura Smith, our Bereavement and Counselling Clinical Lead, writes about the importance of memorials.

When we lose a loved one, we may feel a range of different emotions.  Some may be expected, such as the initial shock when someone we love dies, or sorrow when we first begin to understand the enormity of what has happened.  It can feel as though our lives have been turned upside down, and other emotions such as anger, guilt and regret may take us by surprise.  In the first few days after a death, even one that is expected, we may find it hard to process our emotions fully, and the time may pass in a blur.  There is often so much to do in terms of making practical and funeral arrangements, that it can be hard to feel anything other than numbness; we may feel that we are working on “automatic pilot”.

When we attend the funeral, we may find that our grief is overwhelming and that we feel raw and exhausted.  While we know that it is important to have the funeral and to have that formal chance to say goodbye to our loved one, it may still be difficult to be fully “present” at the event, as our thoughts and feelings may be in turmoil.

Over time, those initial feelings will begin to give way to other emotions, perhaps a deeper sadness and thoughts about how to face a future without our loved one.  This may be the time to think about holding or attending a memorial event to remember our loved one, to reflect on our relationship with them and to pay tribute to their memory in a positive and thoughtful way.  The word “memorial” comes from the word memorare in Latin, which means “to recount or call to mind”, and so attending a memorial event can provide the opportunity to focus on our memories of the person who has died.

For some people, a private memorial event with family and close friends may be enough.  For others, it may be helpful to join with others who have undergone similar experiences to know that we are not alone; others are travelling the same journey alongside us.  Although everyone’s experience of grief is unique and no two people grieve in the same way, it is often comforting to know that others understand what we are going through, and can share our grief with us.

On Monday 29th November, we will be holding our annual Lights of Love remembrance service at the Watford Colosseum at 6.30pm.  If you would like to remember your loved one, share memories and honour their life with the Peace Hospice Care community, we would very much like to welcome you to join us.