I Keep Forgetting
Sandra Howlett, Ed.D.
Have you ever walked into another room to get something…and by the time you got there, you can’t remember what you were going for? Or maybe you returned from Costco having spent in excess of what feels like a $100 minimum to exit…and realized that you forgot the ONE thing you meant to buy? Or gone to work wearing different color socks or shoes (hopefully same heel height)? Or maybe you were completing a form that asks for social security or phone number….data you have recited thousands of time…and you drew a blank having absolutely no recall whatsoever of the numbers that have been part of your life for decades.
So you worry. Am I ‘losing it’? Is this Alzheimers? What’s wrong with me? Grief is a time of remembering loved ones and forgetting so much else…not by choice so much as by mental and emotional overload. Schedules and routines are off, sleep is often disturbed, stress is high, emotions are raw, exhaustion is common and life as you knew it has changed radically. Somewhere, something has to give…and often it is part of what we carry around in our head. And so we forget….
Forgetting can also apply to other things….the people, experience and resources we have available to us but ‘forget’ to tap into when we most need them. Sometimes all we need is a gentle reminder to help us use what we have. Recently I was sharing a health issue with a friend and they asked, “Did you use A, B and C?” I hadn’t….even though I am very familiar with A, B and C….and all are readily available to me. I had temporarily blanked out about them as remedies – excellent remedies! Why hadn’t I thought of them before? Who knows? Distracted? Distressed?
It is easy and common to get overwhelmed with life while grieving. Usually there are many well meaning offers made in the early days of grief that we may recall and likely declined. Think of these as ‘promissory notes’…offers that are available for collection.
We are often sitting on a pile of resources that we have forgotten or in some cases, not even associated with the needs of the situation. Some examples include:
- Friends who offer to help in non-specific ways
- Friends who offer specific help – bring a meal, accompaniment to appointments, lawn care, child care
- Figure out what you need and ask for help with a specific task – sorting a closet, organizing papers, laundry
- Spiritual community
- Prayer and meditation
- Rituals for remembrance and healing
- Sit quietly
- Close friends and neighbors
- On-line banking for bill paying
- Employee assistance services available through workplace
- Grief support groups
- Books, articles and readings on grief
- Self-care practices
- Massage or other body work
- Movement – even walking around your block
- Share stories about your beloved
- Journal feelings, reflections and memories
Every ‘resource’ is a helper of sorts….there to support, encourage and assist you in dealing with the day at hand and healing some of the hurt. So consider your own needs…what do you have, readily available to you, that you need to REMEMBER to use?