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Remembering to move forward

I recently began a project creating quilts from pieces of clothing from the father of a family. He died in the past year, and they are honouring him by having quilts made for the family members from his clothes. While I am reviewing the pieces of clothing provided to me, I am flooded with images that come to my mind about the person who has past, and the images of the family remembering their loved one in these clothes. This is a sacred process. I do not have any recollection of the individual, no memories, no understanding of who the person is. Yet, as I harvest the pieces of fabric, develop a pattern, and begin to sew the pieces together, I imagine what the person might have done in the clothes. I imagine the moments of laughter and sadness that the family will remember when they see the quilt. I imagine and savor the thoughts that these pieces will hold for the family. Creating a quilt is a personal process for me and creating a memory quilt is even more involving. A memory quilt is about remembering and holding these memories to enable healthy grieving.

Remembering and grieving is part of our past, and part of our future. When I work as a psychotherapist, I will often begin in the present, but bring in memories that may have shaped an individual's response and reaction to current events. We move forward not only with hopes and dreams, but also with awareness, knowledge and reactivity to our past. It is in remembering that we are shaped. It is the narrative that we tell ourselves about our past, that then shapes how we move into the future.

As I create the quilt, and become more deeply involved in the imagining, I also wonder what the family will experience when they see the quilts for the first time. The quilt and the pieces will hold much for them – thoughts, emotions, memories, reactions, joy, sadness, loss, and grieving. Remembering is important. Remembering despite the pain and emotions is a way for us to hold dear that which has become a part of us. It is honouring and being true to the person we grieve, but also to ourselves.

I have heard many times, from those in pain from loss, “People say to me, isn’t it time to be done with the emotions?” The pain and emotions of loss of a person sometimes becomes less or less often, but it rarely completely dissipates. The quilts I am creating, I hope will help the family remember and grieve. I believe that in the viewing of the quilts they will experience the joy and sadness the memories bring. And the joy and beauty of remembering sacred moments of their loved one, and also sacred moments with each other.

Remembering is sacred. Remembering is honouring. Remembering is loving. Remembering is allowing the past to be full and being able to create a new future from those memories. Remembering can help ground us and help us know ourselves better.

What are you remembering these days? Perhaps it is only from the current COVID experiences. Perhaps it is before COVID, and what you remember life was like before… Those memories are sacred and important. They have information for you, and about you. Hold the memories, and then begin developing new ones – new memories to hold dear to you for the future. Remembering is a way to shape a new narrative for the future. Use it and grow from it.

I can provide a safe place for you to process your memories; and to grieve what you have lost, so that you can build a new future.

I provide psychotherapy and art therapy via video telemedicine, on phone and in limited in-person sessions. Talk soon.

Deb Kopeschny,

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