How to Cope When You Lose Memories of the Person Who Died

I found that 29 years old was a weird age. It feels like “not yet 30, but no longer 28,” sort of like it can’t stand on its own but instead it’s defined by the shadows of what came before and what will come next. 

My age is inconsequential to you, I only bring it up because I think it’s a good way to describe what it feels like to slowly lose the sharpest memories you held with the person you lost. 

It feels like an in-between stage: You still have some, but you’ve left others behind that you maybe didn’t envision ever leaving behind. It can feel harsh, sudden, and inevitable all in the same breath. It felt very cruel the first time I realized I couldn’t remember my mom’s voice anymore — I didn’t know who I was mad at, but I knew I was mad at someone or something for taking her away and then taking away the bits of her I’d still managed to hold onto. 

Losing those memories are a hard part of grief that’s oftentimes not spoken about. We know to expect to miss them in the future, when something sweet happens and we learn a new definition of the word “bittersweet.” But, we aren’t prepared to have to relitigate our relationship to grief because we keep losing the past. It’s hard. It’s unfair. It happens to us all. 

I’ve found that certain actions help soften the blow: 

  • I journal what I do remember, whenever I do remember it, so I can read it back on hard days.
  • I tell others stories about my mom and grandma, so that on hard days they can tell them back to me.
  • I speak to others who understand what it’s like to have to relive the grief in such a personal way.

Everyone’s journey with grief is so unique that so are the ways we choose to cope with it. 

I like that even in the midst of all the uniqueness, I know that you know how hard it is to not remember what their favorite donut was sometimes. I hope you know I wouldn’t judge you for forgetting, so hopefully you don’t judge yourself either. 

Vivian Nunez is the host of the “Happy to Be Here” podcast, a mental health podcast full of conversations with creatives, authors, experts & more. She also founded, a community and resource for teens and young adults who have experienced the death of someone they love. You can find her writing about all things mental health + grief on her instagram — @vivnunez and/or visit to learn more.