Sights, Sounds and Scents

Epson513 - Version 2A few years after our son died I was bathing our dog, and a profound surge of sadness came over me. It took me few minutes to realize that the scent of the antiseptic soap I was using to shampoo the dog triggered the memory of being in the NICU, scrubbing up to visit our son.

We know our loved one in a physical environment of sight, sound and scent. Depending on the length and involvement of our relationship, we have hundreds, if not thousands, of sensory connections to our loved one.

When you wonder how long grief takes, consider the myriad of ways you knew your loved one through your eyes, ears and nose. Often these sensory memories bypass your psychological defenses and go right to the core of your loss.

You are not lingering in your grief. Your senses do not forget.

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Dr. Patrick O’Malley is a psychotherapist in Fort Worth, Texas, specializing in grief counseling. For 35 years, he has counseled individuals, couples and families in his private practice. Dr. O'Malley has recently published a book, "Getting Grief Right" about grief recovery.

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