Remembering practices are a narrative approach to grief psychology that emphasize the ongoing story of relationship. Drawing on practices of story telling, narrative legacy and rituals, these practices aim to keep relationships alive. Using the flexibility of stories, relationships can even develop new qualities and enhanced dimensions following death. From this perspective, grief becomes an evolving and creative opportunity for story development and change, rather than an unpleasant task to be worked through as quickly possible. Remembering practices provide people who are dying and people living with grief hope that the dead will not be forgotten.
Remembering practices are in opposition to the conventional ways of speaking about death and grief. The assumption that people should complete a process of farewell and letting go in order to progress healthily through the crisis and transition of death would not be found in a remembering conversation. Traditional discourse in the field of death and bereavement invites stories and practices of "letting go" and "moving on" from the memories of our deceased loved ones. Often, this approach overemphasizes the finality of death and disconnects us from important relationships in our lives.
Rather than generating stories of "goodbye" and completing unfinished business with our deceased loved ones, narrative approach seeks to find ways in which positive connections can be maintained, and even fostered, following death. These new practices promote keeping our connections with loved ones alive for others and ourselves through constant revision and inclusion in response to the changing context of our lives.
Remembering practices support the continuation of the life of stories rather than dwelling on the finality of death. When we understand that a relationship continues long after a person has died, we can appreciate how death provides opportunities for the telling and performing of loving stories that can be formed to construct future memories. We can employ the power of story to transcend physical mortality to promote the remembering of lives and the importance of maintaining connections.
Copyright © 2012 Lorraine Hedtke MSW, ACSW, PhD Reproduction of Remembering Practice's original pages without written consent is expressly prohibited