When you’re faced with living another 30, 40 or 50 years without the person you assumed would be by your side for decades, it’s common to worry about memories fading and/or losing your connection to your late spouse. This fear is often especially acute in young widows who have children—you feel a responsibility to keep memories alive so your children can have a connection with their parent.
Each person and each family has to find ways to remember their deceased spouse and parent—the types of traditions you build to remember your spouse will depend on your relationship, what types of activities you and your spouse did together and the ages and interests of your children, if you have them. Regardless, finding some way to build a connection to your late spouse into your life is an important part of healing and is something that can and should continue for the rest of your life.
Preserving Tangible Items
One way to keep your spouse’s memory close is to keep his or her things, or at least some of them. Alternatively, you can create something special using his or her clothing, jewelry or other possessions that you (and your children) can hold on to. Here are some ideas:
- Using his or her wedding ring to either make a new ring for yourself or to create a new piece of jewelry for yourself or your child(ren);
- Using his or her clothes to make a quilt;
- Holding on to particularly prized possessions—a telescope, paint brushes, climbing gear—and keeping it out, where you can see it an be reminded of your spouse.
One of the most obvious examples of this is to keep photos of your spouse and of your life together up in your house.
Building New Traditions
Preserving memories is about more than holding on to things—it’s about getting out and doing activities, both new and old. Continuing traditions you used to do with your spouse can be a very strong way to preserve their memory and to keep them alive for your children. This can be anything from holiday traditions to weekend traditions to simply visiting a place that they loved.
You can also do things your spouse always wanted to do, but never did—take a trip he or she had talked about or even go to a restaurant he or she had wanted to try.
The key to preserving memories is often in the stories we tell, to ourselves and to others. Memories are best shared—with children, with friends, with family. No matter what tangible objects you keep or activities you do to remember your spouse, talking about and making the connection to your spouse explicit will help you feel connected to him or her. This can include talking with friends or family about what he/she would think about a particular situation or decision, introducing your children to his or her favorite activities or even taking up a hobby that he or she enjoyed.
If you’re struggling to find ways to keep your spouse’s memory alive or are just worried about memories fading with time, talking with a counselor can help. I can also help you navigate how to hold on to things and traditions even as you start dating again. We can brainstorm things and traditions that would help you feel connected to your spouse and think about how you can hold on to your spouse’s memory in the decades to come. There are ways to prevent memories from fading—and I can help you find the right strategies for you and your family.
Image credit: Pixabay, mching49