Why, “Just Think About All The Good Memories,” Doesn’t Comfort My Heart

I pull out the memories like treasures from a locked strongbox.

“Handle With Care” because they are all I have left.

But they are not enough.

They will never be enough to satisfy this mama’s heart.

We are supposed to have to remember our elders, our grandparents, even, maybe our spouse at some point-but not our children.

I knew my son from before he made his entrance into the wide world.  He had already danced his way into my heart before he took his first step on solid ground.  He was part of me from the moment of conception.

I waited breathlessly to see his face for the first time.

I never expected that I would also see it for a last time.

We all have people we expect to outlive-our grandparents, our parents, elderly friends and neighbors-but not our child.

As our loved ones age, the wise among us begin to catalog and carefully store all those “lasts” or soon-to-be “lasts”.  We ask for stories to make sure we can keep telling them.  We take extra photographs, make extra phone calls and write down recipes.

I was living life forward with Dominic-just like all my kids.  We were a busy, busy family and I was never very good at scrapbooking or saving up the ordinary flotsam of everyday life.

dom age 2 sunscreen

So while I have some pictures, memorabilia and tokens of his too-short life, I don’t have nearly enough.  Oh, how I wish I had more!  Not to create a museum or a shrine but to help my poor brain remember.

When someone says, “Just think of the good memories” it triggers all kinds of emotions and not one of them is what the person intends when giving me that advice.

I feel guilty-guilty for all the things I CAN’T remember. 

Dominic is my third child and only 19 months older than his younger brother.  There are so many gaps from those early years because I was overwhelmed and tired.  Why can’t I conjure up images of him at 3 or 4? 

That hurts.

I feel incredibly sad-sad that whatever memories I DO have are all I will ever have.  I had the memories BEFORE my son wasn’t walking with me and had planned on making many more.

So focusing on memories brings little solace.

Even  at 4 1/2 years into this journey, I’m torn when I pull out the memories.

I can smile now about many of them, but it’s always bittersweet.

Because this treasure trove is as large as it will ever be. 

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

15 thoughts on “Why, “Just Think About All The Good Memories,” Doesn’t Comfort My Heart”

  1. I agree with this 100%. I understand that people just want to say something kind. That our grief is so uncomfortable for them, they’d like to help us “get over” it. Grief brain is real. The mental fog, the inability to hold on to information before the death of our child only too real. And even if we have hundreds of pictures, many memories of life shared, it will never be enough. Because they’re will never be any new adventures, pictures, or shared moments. And that takes up a lot of space in our minds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true, Kristyn. Sometimes I lie awake at night for hours trying to reconstruct some event or season in my family’s life so I can “save” the details. I usually can’t do it. ❤


  2. My father did not believe I was his child so I was told to stay out of family pictures- I ruined them or I did photograph well. I grew up with a huge complex about taking photographs. As a result, I only have three photographs of myself with my twins. Now one is gone. It is a terrible thing not to have a photographic record of this great love.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, there is so much truth to this! Just going through pictures tonight, the last picture of Ryan and his brother Tyler, the last picture of Ryan with his baby girl, the last picture of me and Ryan together, the last picture of Ryan with dad, Nana, Papa….the list goes on! We never expected his end to come so soon and always wish we had more pics, more memories, more good times, even more bad times, just wish we could wish them all back….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When a relationship with our child has become a set of memories with a possibility of no new memories, it becomes a difficult pill to swallow when someone says, “At least you had….,” or “I’m sure you’re so thank for the time you had,” or anything along that line. It’s difficult not to envy those who continue to build those memories with the children, to wish we could do the same. 19 years was not enough for this mama.


  5. I have only recently subscribed to the life I didn’t choose. We just passed one year for my son who died at 32 leaving 3 young children and a wife. Your posts have so touched me. You seem to know every feeling I have before I even identify it myself. Thank you for sharing your pain and growth.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, so many memories that I wish I could remember, so many that I wish I had made, so many that will never be made. I miss hearing about his day or things that were important to him. My heart will never heal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really does! Of course all mamas know they will have to “remember” the younger years of their children and there is a certain nostalgia in that. But that kind of remembering is not the kind we strain to do. We are desperate to reconstruct every minute because we have no more minutes to share with them. That’s painful. I pray that the Lord will help us both remember some things we think we’ve forgotten-like little gifts for our mama hearts. ❤


      1. It doesn’t get any “better” does Melanie? I woke up the other morning knowing I’d had a dream during which I had a memory. In the dream I was so excited I was laughing and exclaiming “Oh, I’d forgotten all about that.” ❤
        Yep..sure enough, that’s all I could capture because I sure as heck couldn’t remember what the memory was! 💔

        Liked by 1 person

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