Why do we celebrate anniversaries? Why do we pause on days of the year when difficult things have happened in years gone by? Is there value in remembering those traumatic, life changing events? Remembering the death of a loved one, the day the house burned down, the day those soldiers died, or the day the crash happened?
Remember comes from two words:
Re – meaning “again”
Memor – meaning “mindful”
“TO BE MINDFUL AGAIN”
A few days ago, we were “mindful again” of our motorcycle accident which happened just over two years ago. The day we bring to mind again what happened out on a stretch of highway in 2011 we call our “Crashiversary.” It’s a word we coined to keep the memory of what happened alive in our minds.
On our two year crashiversary, we returned to the accident scene. It was the first time back for both my wife and me. I felt very little emotion as I approached the corner. I don’t know if having no memory of the accident lowered my anxiety but it was a reflective and peaceful return visit for me.
The return gave us a chance to piece together missed parts to the story. The visit was meaningful and good therapy. We also had the bonus of meeting the first responders to the accident who live right across the road from the crash and heard it happen.
So what is the value in being mindful again of those traumatic and difficult events in our lives?
Five Insights on Remembering Difficult Events in our Lives
1. Remembering bad events is more helpful than forgetting them.
This insight comes from Dr. Alan Manevitz, a psychiatrist at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital who worked with patients following 9/11. He’s saying to forget causes more harm in the long run than remembering.
2. Some people are triggered when remembering traumatic events and need extra support to cope with their loss and grief.
Being triggered is not a good enough reason to avoid remembering. Rather, a trigger can be seen as a way to open the door for more help and support. It is not a sign of weakness to admit you are not through your grief but a sign of strength and self-awareness.
3. Remembering reminds you of what you have, not just what you’ve lost.
For me, it took a while to get to this place but once I arrived at a place of gratitude for what I had left, it helped me deal with what I had lost and cope with my new normal just a little bit better. Gratitude is an attitude that gives us altitude!
4. Remembering encourages others.
When you take time to remember life changing events and include others in your story, it gives hope to those going through a similar situation. Your perspective on life, your experience, your story is what you have to give to the world. When you survive trauma, learn from it, grow through it – you help others as you remember and share that experience with them.
5. Remembering helps you find healing and move through your grief.
Remembering helps integrate the experience you had with your everyday life. It creates a space for the memory and the impact it had on your life. If we don’t find a space for those difficult events in our souls and memories, they can hold us back and keep us from moving forward and finding healing.
What watershed event in your life do you remember?
Are you able to remember without being triggered? If not, who can help you? If you are healed, who can you encourage with your story?