Why Remembering Heals

If we must remember as the way to heal, then not remembering — or misremembering — blocks healing.

One of the things God kept telling the ancient Hebrew people to remember was that they had been enslaved in Egypt. Remembering this would help them heal and, in turn, help heal the world. Remembering they had been enslaved was to impact the way they treated others.

Remembering and forgetting—both are essential to our daily living, both essential to our spiritual lives. We are persons with unique histories. We are constituted as selves by these histories as accessed by memory. Anyone who has watched an elderly parent disappear before their eyes through the destructive power of Alzheimer’s understands the tragedy of total amnesia. Without a remembered past, the person lacks coherent selfhood. There is only confusion. Yet perhaps our histories are open to a remembering that is also a redemptive forgetfulness and a forgetfulness that is also a redemptive remembering. I recall the words of the Apostle Paul: “For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:3-4).

These are three steps to remember for yourself to heal:

1. Telling one’s story

An essential part of healing rests on the ability to tell one’s story – to have someone listen and acknowledge pain and suffering. Scholars have explained how stories help people make sense of their experience. Stories can provide a release of emotion and help one connect to others when learning to live with loss.

How one grieves is dependent on social and cultural contexts. If one is surrounded, for example, by people who refuse to acknowledge someone’s loss, it will be a more traumatic experience than being in a culture that recognizes the loss.

Remembrance days, Memorial Day, 9-11, and memorials, in particular, can provide opportunities to share stories with a community, especially for those who might have trouble finding people to listen to them.

2. Providing public bonds

Research shows that many people develop continuing bonds with individuals who have died. Often people want to keep a deceased loved one’s memory in their lives. Remembrance events can present opportunities and rituals to help in sustaining those connections.

A person establishes private bonds with the deceased, through internal conversations, private rituals, or holding on to symbolic objects. Public bonds, on the other hand, require more people to help make connections, such as telling their story to an audience and hearing others’ stories through films, books, speakers or museum exhibits.

Community events that are scheduled as part of a day of remembrance provide resources for people who may want to develop more public bonds.

3. Documenting history through stories

Storytelling does not just benefit survivors and victims’ families. Individual stories can help the world understand the human toll of mass tragedy.

Seeing family pictures and knowing how their lives were devastated poignantly brings the tragedy home in a way that numbers alone cannot do. Such stories become the building blocks of history, for they are never simply individual. They are told in specific historical times and they help us understand the relationships between people and society.

Find your own way to remember.  Personally, I talk to my crossed loved ones daily through thoughts, dreams, and even at times subconsciously.  Never forget those who came before and who sacrificed for you to be where you are today.  Cherish their lives through memorials, heal with tears, and let go over time.  There is no time limit to how long you should remember, it’s only when you feel healed that you have fulfilled their memory.

Another step in the process is soul remembering a shamanic ritual ceremony.  Learn more about this in the next part of this series: What Is Soul Remembering?


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