Dealing with Facebook Memories and Reminders

The new phenomenon of "On This Day" FB memories, when you are grieving the loss of a loved one, is a tough one. Each day I'm seeing memories on FB of both my Mum and Dad, and reliving the trauma of everything that happened last year before they both died. I am very torn. In some ways, I don't want to see these posts, but in other ways, I *do* want to see them, because they *are* helping to give me some much needed perspective.

For instance, re-reading the details (which can get forgotten) - I can see now, that I really *did* do my best to try to help them: - I worked tirelessly with phone calls to agencies, Social Services, letters to doctors, charities, organizations, family, friends, etc, going over to England for HALF A YEAR to try to sort them out. But, it was my parents' stubbornness and refusal of help that prevented me getting the right sort of professional help in that they desperately needed this time last year. (Coupled with the LAW, that prevents anyone interfering with a patient's CONSENT!) So, my continual guilt, that I just didn't do enough to save them, is somewhat assuaged by this reminder. They just didn't want help. Their pride was more important to them.

And, another perspective is this: - would it have made *any* difference even if I *had* managed to get professional help into the house for them? Would they have lived longer? More importantly, would they have lived longer with a *better quality* of life? What is quality of life? With my Mum's terrible confusion, anxiety and agitation, in her late stage Alzheimer's, and my Dad's rapidly failing body and severe depression, I don't really think that all the professional help in the world, would have made much difference to their quality of life, or their final outcome, in their last few months on this earth.

And, another point is this: - My memories and my grief are constantly *there* anyway, whether or not I look at FB. I can't escape them. I go to a choir rehearsal, or a dinner, or a social event, and though I may be enjoying myself, in the present moment, I can't totally detach myself from my grief - it is always there. It is like a weight around my neck, a dull ache, constantly distracting me and reminding me how much my life has changed now. It's not like FB is the only thing bringing these memories back - my own mind does that.

So, on balance, I think it's therapeutic for me, to look back through these old posts. Yes, it is painful - it's torture! It makes me cry, often at times when I'm not ready to cry. Perhaps the problem with Facebook giving us these daily memories is that they get thrust at us at times when we are not ready - we were going along just fine - and WHAM! A reminder that brings the grief back in full force.

But, as I'm learning through my grief support groups, this is the nature of grief anyway. We get "grief attacks" when we least expect it, often triggered by old photos, or music, or a familiar item, or a place - there's no sheltering ourselves from these memories, or these deep, painful feelings.

I'm also learning from my grief support groups, that facing the pain of our loss head-on, at times, and letting these feelings of hurt, sadness, disbelief, anger, horror, bitterness, etc, come out - is actually healing for us in the long run - it helps us build that necessary "scar tissue" of acceptance, to cover the wounds of our loss, not to forget our loved ones, but to live with the pain more easily, and survive.

The loss of my parents is still relatively recent, and still feels raw. Apparently, in many years to come, we will be able to look back on old photos and other reminders, with less of the sharp pain, and more with a sense of stoic, manageable melancholy. In the meantime - it takes lots of time, and gentleness and forgiveness (of ourselves).

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