What if the positive memories are someone else's?

CASE: Russell (spiritual care counselor)

Listen for when the son owns his joy

Memory #1: "I felt I was connecting with my father by creating the space that he was in. Dad would send slides of himself and what he was doing. We could connect that with map. I never had any particular location. I had the name of where he was. It was really fun to see those things...After that he continued to be away a lot. He was away a lot." Memory #4: "Just about all my memories have a tinge of ambivalence about them. When I was 11 or 12 I signed up for an oratory. I had a trouble writing it. I said Dad you’re a good speech maker. I won the state championship. With his speech. I felt particularly blessed. This big favor. The highest crest of positive emotion: I was elated. My sister and I may have called home. When I got back home we showed the plaque." Memory #6: "There is another thing that happened at age 15 or 16. I went to Boyce Street, I was a candidate for Governor a really exciting time. Got all the way to the final interview for Boys Nation. Dad was very proud of me when I got home. He had a client . we were installing a lawn for him. I was dragging a board contraction and leveling it. I was driving the tractor and he was talking to a client, there on the ground. And he was talking about me, how cool it was that I had all this prominence. He was popping his buttons on that." In New Jersey. Trenton, we were at the home of an affluent person. It was a warm day. Not too hot. I wore a T shirt. There was some dust in the air. A little breeze but it wasn’t an oppressive thing. After a while, it got a bit old for me, it got a little embarrassing. At the same time I felt really proud. I don’t remember he talked about me to this [client] before. At school I tended to be a bullied kid even though I was clearly intelligent and got good grades. I got picked on. In this situation there was unequivocal affirmation. That’s what Dad was picking up on. I think—I can only imagine—he was imagining me in that situation with these people."
Pick the good-enough memory

What if un-shared grief is the Elephant in the Room?

CASE: Dale (Professor, Counseling Psychology)

Listen for the new direction

Comment #1: "My face looked like my mother. I was not as close to my father. My son’s son matches up with him more. A bit more of a guy who would go into the Marines. That wasn’t a direction I was going in. #2: "I was always in kind of opposition with him. In retrospect I wish I had been able to be closer. I wish I could have understood his grief and loss." #3: "He was a man of few words with me. He didn’t talk to me. He never talked about his life much. He communicated with me indirectly." #4: "I’d like to have the fantasy be, I could give him a hug. He would be showing me things in the car. And I’d ask him… “Dad, I really miss Dickie.” And he’d say, “I miss him too” ... turning around from working under the hood.
Envision the prescriptive memory
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