Owing His Memory?

I found this paragraph in a book I read recently, and it’s a graphic example of why I want to write a novel about a grieving woman — so few understand the nature of grief:

Jean-Pierre was gone; nothing could bring him back, and her feelings for him, feelings that had risen suddenly, had been ebbing just as quickly as evidence of his involvement with illegal drugs had surfaced. If Jean really had been running drugs, she owed his memory nothing.

Owed his memory? What does that mean? This example seems to have been written by a person who knows little of grief. In all these months of steeping in the world of grief, I have not heard a single person mention owing the dead person’s memory anything.  Memories are all we have left and we treasure them, but we also know that memory is not a living creature to whom we must pay homage. We might feel obligations to those who are gone, obligations such as honoring their wishes as to funerals and disbursement of treasured possessions, but we fulfill those obligations out of love and because we find comfort and continuity in still being able to do things for our loved ones. But owing the memory we have of the person? Doesn’t even make sense.

We bereft are all struggling to find a way to live with the hole in our lives, with the ongoing sadness, with the reality that grief is an unending (though perhaps diminishing) journey. No griever I have met has said, “Wait! I can’t be happy. I owe too much to his memory.” Grieving is a process, something we do, something that happens to us, but it is seldom the choice that is hinted at in the above example. Quite frankly, we are all sick of grieving, of being sad, but the only way not to be sad is to have our loved ones back with us, and since that is impossible in this world, we continue on as best as we can with our shattered lives. But we owe that to ourselves, not to his memory.

3 Responses to “Owing His Memory?”

  1. leesis Says:

    spot on Pat. I think not only has the author not experienced grief but also has yet to experience love in its totality

  2. Carol Ann Hoel Says:

    I don’t think anyone can truly understand grief without suffering a loss. Guessing what it might be like to grieve over a lost mate would be like wondering what it might feel like to be hit by a speeding freight train. It’s not about owing a memory. It’s about surviving a wound. Blessings to you…

  3. ~Sia McKye~ Says:

    Good points Pat. People try to project what they THINK a person would feel. Unless you’ve been there in some form, imagination doesn’t quite do it.

    Conversely, if you truly love someone and they die? Regardless of what they’ve done, that love doesn’t just go away. If you can turn off the switch that easily then your love wasn’t heartfelt to begin with. Ask a wife or mother of a person who has done something reprehensible if their just turned off.

    Yah, you could feel anger and frustration over what they did, but stop loving them because they ran drugs or killed someone or any number of scenarios, what does that have to do with the personal man/woman you loved? You still love the personality and the person they were with you.

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