Grief, Loss & Remembering

Written By Irene Ogrodnik
Image of a close-up of a red rose
Photo by: ankakay via flickr creative commons

Sometimes it’s as simple as seeing her favourite flowers—a bouquet of red roses—outside a florist that remind me of my mother. Occasionally the bustling noise inside an auto repair shop jogs my memory of my father’s deep passion for cars.

Despite the fact that it’s been many years since the death of both of my parents, I find the moments of grief—those messy, difficult and painful experiences—still happen. They are still needed.

When my father died from cancer when I was nine, I didn’t have that chance to have my final farewell with him. For years, my stages of grief were stuck in a constant cycle: bargaining (asking what I could have been done to prevent the loss), depression and anger. As best as I could, I mentally avoided recalling moments or events that would remind me of my father. I believed that if I refused to acknowledge the memories I had of him, I could somehow forget his suffering and eventual death.

Six years later, I was once again in a similar situation when my mother was dying from cancer. But this time I was able to say goodbye. Her death wasn’t easier to cope with than my father’s, it was just somehow easier to accept. Perhaps saying goodbye forced me to confront the intense grief I was feeling head-on, allowing me to see what I wasn’t able to see before. In order to properly mourn, I had to let myself to remember my mother. It was my memories of her that kept her spiritually alive. While I wouldn’t get to experience any more moments with my parents, by grieving I could still cherish and be grateful for the time I did have.

While grief may never fully go away, the initial pain has become less intense. Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, but in those moments where I am reminded of my mother and father, whether it’s due to the sight of red roses or the sound of a car’s engine, I allow myself to mourn them. I now grieve to remember, not to forget.