Significant relationships are rich and complex. Your relationship with someone you love is deeply conflicted and filled with tenderness and tension, desire and duty, affection and anger. Such a relationship that has lasted a long time has woven a fabric of knowing and caring that wraps itself around you and sustains you.  It is a necessary part of how you know yourself.

When that relationship ends because of death, divorce or someone moving away, the disorientation and pain can be really frightening. The temptation is to avoid the pain and to to stay busy or to depend on some drug or alcohol to protect us from feeling it so sharply.  We may just move on and pretend that it didn't really matter that much.

But as I have said, re-membering is important to the creating of a new relationship with the departed person. It helps us organize the memories of the person so that we can continue to relate to their presence that still lingers after their absence has become real.

But remembering well is also a way of shrinking the size of that person's presence in our lives so that it becomes "pocket-sized". When that presence is smaller, there is room for new life.  It is helpful to remember the person long enough and well enough that you can create some small reminder of the essence of the meaning that person had in our lives. When their presence becomes memorial-sized, we are able to honor their memory but move forward to grow the new relationships that will enrich and sustain us.

This is why nations and cities create memorials of significant events in their history.  The past matters. Memorials honor the complexity and the rich meaning of events where fundamental change occurred and many sacrificed so much as a result of the event. But, the past can't control the future. It needs to be honored but not become a prison.  Memorials help us remember and be free to move forward into the new world.

When you lose someone significant in your life, create a memorial that can remind you of their meaning for you and free you to live the new life that you have been given.