Remembering Our Loved Ones After They Leave This World & Sharing John Pavlovitz’ Blog Post on When We Forget They’re Dead


July is an emotionally charged month for me to navigate and I suspect it will remain so for as long as I live. It’s an excessively long month due to the many loved ones who have  passed during the month of July. I lost an Aunt on July 18, 2014, who was so much more than an aunt to me. As a young teenager, she had looked after and protected my two siblings and me from our alcoholic mother and dysfunctional home life, as best as she could at the time when we were mere children. My Aunt Veronica was the only family member on the maternal side of my family that I remained close to over the years. Losing her when she was sixty-years-old was a loss I was not prepared for.

Aunt Veronica hung on until her second grandson turned one, and she could be part of his birthday celebration and then silently slipped away within days. One week later, on July 24, 2014, Aunt Veronica’s sister, my Aunt Dana passed away, and she was only sixty-one-years-old. While I did not have the same relationship with Aunt Dana as I did with Aunt Veronica, it was nevertheless painful. The most painful part of losing Aunt Dana was that I was the one who went to the hospital the morning Aunt Veronica left this world as we know it to tell her that her baby sister had passed away eary that morning. My eyes said what my lips did not want to utter. It was devastating to watch Aunt Dana’s reaction to what my eyes were telling her. I was shattered over losing Aunt Veronica only four hours earlier. I believe Aunt Veronica’s death was too much for Aunt Dana and she wanted to be with her sister. And a week later, Aunt Dana closed her eyes and went to be with Aunt Veronica.

On July 18, 2016, two years to the day of losing Aunt Veronica, my cousin Pammy who I had called Aunt Pammy as a child, the only remaining family member on my paternal side of my family that I had a heart-to-heart connection with passed away at the age of sixty-three. Pammy held on to life to see her third granddaughter born and to see her son be ordained a Priest via Facetime, after years of serving as a Friar. The loss of Pammy was likened to being punched in the gut and not being able to breathe. I did not get to see or say goodbye to Pammy. Not until I took an Amtrak train to Poughkeepsie, NY where she had been laid to rest, and sat on the ground at her feet, weeping as I thanked her for always being there for me, told her how much I loved her, and sat with her for a while. Only then was I able to say goodbye, but I did not leave Pammy’s gravesite until I found a flat stone that lays upon my dresser today. A few days ago, Pammy’s brother, my cousin, Johnny passed away almost two years to the date of Pammy’s passing. July’s impending losses continue.

Today, four years ago on July 26, 2014, we held Aunt Veronica’s End of Life Celebration. July is a painful, weary month where distractions work momentarily. I still wake from a dream of Aunt Veronica or Pammy where I believe, if only ephemerally, they are still here, they are at home and all is well. But then I am fully awakened and reality hits me and my heart begins to hurt as tears emerge and roll silently down my face. It feels as if my heart is breaking all over again. And it hurts because I realize I am all alone in this world as far as maternal and paternal family goes. Since 2014, July brings heartbreak and a yearly reminder of the extent of my loss. Sometimes I wish I could close my eyes and not awaken until August. August does not diminish the loss and remembrances, but it is not the same as July where I feel as if I am reliving the loss of those I loved, and every heartbeat hurts.

Today, I read a blog by John Pavlovitz titled, “When You Forget That Their Dead,” and it spoke loudly to me. It was almost as if his blog were written for me, but I got it, and as John writes,

“I’ll catch myself forgetting and I’ll wonder why it still happens.

Again I’ll feel stupid, and tears will cloud my eyes.

And just like that, I’ll remember how much I miss him.

And in a way that no words can measure, we’ll be together again.”



John Pavlovitz and I follow one another on Twitter, and we met recently at the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina. We spoke for a few minutes, and I asked him if he would mind if I share his blogposts from time to time, and he gave me permission to do so. The following is John’s blogpost from today, July 26, 2018.

When You Forget That They’re Dead by John Pavlovitz


“Yesterday, I was sitting at my desk; head down and plowing through both the literal and figurative piles of tasks before me, when I took a quick pause to breathe and clear my head.

“I think I’ll call my dad.” I thought to myself, yet before the sentence had even reached its conclusion—everything stopped abruptly, and I felt sick to my stomach.

“Damnit.” I answered back out loud and sighed heavily. Tears clouded my eyes until they spilled out onto the papers below me.

It had happened again.

My father’s been dead for almost five years now, and this still happens more times than I care to admit: when I’m busy or stressed out or angry, and that heart muscle memory kicks in and prompts me to reach for the phone—and then I remember.

For a millisecond, it’s as if I forget that he is gone.

It sounds ridiculous that I could “not remember,” this; that I could possibly forget that one of the people most dear to me in this life isn’t here anymore, but if you’ve ever lost someone you understand.

You know the way grief sneaks up on you in the middle of an ordinary moment when you least expect it to arrive—and it levels you.

You know that reflexive move to call them or hear their voices or to check in to see how their day is going, and what a kick in the gut you get when you remember you can’t.

You know the fresh wave of grief that comes in the wake of the impossible “mistake” of your memory loss, and it’s as if they’re dying again for the first time.

As with all grieving, it’s strangely those excruciating moments that somehow console you, too. They hurt like hell, and then they comfort.

As painful as it is to be surprised by grief, it’s a reminder of just how deeply connected your lives were, just how much a part of the daily rhythm of your days they had been, and just how beautiful it was just to be loved by them in a million nondescript seconds.

As you look back, it’s those middle of the day phone calls, those surprise drop-in visits, those quick caresses to your hair, those seemingly meaningless conversations that become the most meaningful.

Maybe that’s why you forget the people you love are gone. Maybe it’s a gift to remind you of how it felt when they were here when you were together when nothing was out of reach.

I sat there at my desk crying, first in anger, then in gratitude. I had someone worth missing.

I know this is going to happen again. For as long as I live, whenever I have exciting news to share or when I’m frustrated or simply when I’m in the middle of an ordinary day, I know I’m going to forget, and I’m going to reach for the phone.

I’ll catch myself forgetting and I’ll wonder why it still happens.

Again I’ll feel stupid, and tears will cloud my eyes.

And just like that, I’ll remember how much I miss him.

And in a way that no words can measure, we’ll be together again.”


If you are not already following John Pavlovitz’ blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said, I encourage you to visit his blog. John is the Author of A Bigger Table and his second book Hope and Other Superpowers will be available on November 6, 2018.

“John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. In the past four years, his blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said has reached a diverse worldwide audience. A 20-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside of faith communities.”

You can purchase A Bigger Table at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, IndieBound, The Thoughtful Christian, and Cokesbury.

Hope and Other Superpowers is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, BAM, and IndieBound.

Follow John Pavlovitz on Twitter and Facebook.



3 thoughts on “Remembering Our Loved Ones After They Leave This World & Sharing John Pavlovitz’ Blog Post on When We Forget They’re Dead

  1. A truly heartfelt reminder that those we love are never really gone from us. They linger just a breath away in our hearts, minds and subconciousness. Rather than pushing it away, we should welcome it as a gentle reminder of their love for us, and all that they brought to our lives, and carry on within us.

    Liked by 2 people

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