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  • Natalie Adams

I Don't Remember That - Forgetting Memories Before Grief

Even though I thought I'd remember forever, I've forgotten so much about my dad. Here's how I remember.

Nine sticky notes are pictured on a brown desk.

On Thursday, I was going through my piles of old writings and organizing them. As I moved each paper to a different file, I would briefly scan it to see what it was about.

About halfway through my work, I stumbled upon an old draft I had written while planning this website. Before I went to quickly read it, a small note on the side caught my eye. I often come up with ideas, or remember something randomly, when I'm writing, and instead of pausing my work, I just scribble a little note to myself on the side. This particular note read "Dad's purple mint bowl." To anyone else, that note would be meaningless, but it brought back a memory for me.

For a few years before my dad's death, my dad would keep a small and curvey purple bowl of mints on the dining room table, near where he worked when he was home. Whenever I would go downstairs to get something, I would grab a mint to have when I got back to my bedroom.

That four-worded note was so significant to me that I kept on thinking about it, and eventually wrote this article. It wasn't the purple bowl or mints themselves that caught my attention, though. It was the fact that, before reading my note, I had almost completely forgotten about the mint bowl.

Before my dad died, I would've not thought much of how I forgot about the bowl. I mean, it was just a purple bowl full of mints. Not significant, right? Now, however, I cling onto even the tiniest memories that momentarily bring me back to the time before my grief. When I first read that note, it was like I was back in my dad's old house, standing right next to the mint bowl, saying hi to him as I grabbed a mint. But, like many memories, I forgot this one. I don't even know what else I've forgotten, and I'll probably never remember most of them.

This is really upsetting to me. Luckily, though, right after my dad died, my mom warned me that I would forget a lot about my dad and things related to him over time, and I'm here to warn you: Even if you don't think you will, you will forget things. Write everything down.

I have piles of random papers and notes on my phone full of random memories. Some are long paragraphs describing my memory, but most are just a few words, like the "Dad's purple mint bowl" note. I am so thankful that I wrote down these memories, because when I read back through them now I realize how much I've forgotten. Even if this isn't the beginning of your grief, you can still start writing down things now. Trust me.

Now, when I remember something about my dad, I add it to one of my lists, and when I want to remember things, I read through the lists. Even though I've forgotten a lot, I can always revisit the memories that I saved, and I'm so glad that I've wrote a lot down.


Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks.

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