I wonder how this year’s Memorial Day impacted you. Did it bring sweet memories that lifted your spirits? Or were your memories painful because they represented the sorrow of separation from someone you love? Remembering can still be painful when we are having trouble letting go.

An acquaintance of mine still wrestles with the death of his brother who lost his life in Iraq six years ago. He has been unable to reconcile with his loss, even after the passage of years.

A dear friend lost her husband when they were in their 70’s. His absence was almost more than she could bear. Even years later, when we visited together and shared refreshments, she carried an 8 x 10 framed picture of him from room to room as we moved about her home. Her depth of sorrow seemed natural, since they’d known each other since second grade. Yet, I realized that her inability to accept his death and finish her grieving season had kept her in emotional bondage. She remained sorrowful until the day she died almost 20 years later.

God wants us to remember but also to let go. Some people who read my Life through Loss book told me that the following quotes helped shift their perspective, which opened the door for healing. In memory of your loved ones, I share these excerpts from page 161.

Moving toward a new life is scary. You may be afraid if you let go of your sorrow you will forget the person.

Christine Cleary lost her husband to cancer when he was 44. She says, “Death forces you to look back, and acceptance involves slowly turning your body around to look forward. If you begin a new chapter of life, you carry the person you lost along with you.”

Someone else said, “Anyone who has lost a loved one knows that you don’t ‘recover’. Instead, you learn to incorporate their absence and memories into your life and channel your emotional energy toward others. Eventually, it has been said, your grief walks beside you instead of consuming you.”

Holly Prigerson, ‎Director of the Center for Psycho-oncology and Palliative Care Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, explains, “In general, bereaved survivors shouldn’t think of ‘getting over’ a loss, but develop ways to get used to it. Even years after someone dies, pangs of grief may come out of the blue, and feelings of heartache and missing the deceased are rekindled. That’s normal.”