A Gentle Reminder

A met a stranger recently who on hearing my name asked me if the Frank Tubridy who took photographs was any relation of mine.

I responded, with a smile, that he was my father and she said that she had always loved his work and then asked me if he was still alive. I told her that he had died in 2010 and she said that she was sorry to learn that.

I know that people can be feel very uneasy about mentioning someone who may have died, in case they upset the person they are asking or somehow remind them of the the fact that they have died ~ as if it would be something they might have forgotten about!

I am always chuffed when people talk to me about my late parents and say things like: I always think about your mother when I see the snowdrops blooming; or I have a photograph that your father took hanging in my sitting-room and every time I look at it, I remember how he loved a good joke. 

Our Perch in the Comeragh Mountains : Photo by Frank Tubridy

It’s so good to know that people who mattered to us are remembered fondly, especially as the years pass since their deaths.

So, I give thanks to the stranger (now friendly acquaintance) who clearly knew that speaking kindly of those who have died can be extremely comforting. I guess she had learned this from personal experience.

I expect that there may be divided opinion on this topic but I also suspect that more people than we realise are warmed by hearing their loved ones being remembered with fondness. 






Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

35 thoughts on “A Gentle Reminder”

  1. I had to look up chuffed and found it has two opposing definitions: 1. delighted; pleased; satisfied. 2. annoyed; displeased; disgruntled. I had always heard it used in the negative. But I realized you couldn’t have meant it that way. I love hearing stories of my loved ones and the good things people remember about them. Reminders of good times are wonderful.

  2. When my mom was staying here she said that some people have not wanted to talk about my father with her, and that she loves it when people bring him up and remember something about him. On the other hand, some people (my brother) are too grief stricken and talk too much about their own grief rather than what they remember about my dad.

    1. Hi Eric, I don’t think there is consensus around this as I’ve met people who hold differing views to mine and would rather not have strangers talking to them about a loved one who has died. It can be for a host of reasons, most commonly that it knocks them off their stride as it comes so unexpectedly.

  3. I was thinking about something related to this the other day – about how we tend to remember the good times – which are somehow recorded in much more detail in our heads than any other times.

    1. Interesting thought!
      I feel that we probably need to filter out a lot of the very rough bits in order to be able to battle on. I know I’ve done that quite deliberately in relation to some of the worst times of illness of those I’ve loved.

  4. I had to look up the meaning of Chuffed as I haven’t heard of this word before. I found it to be of British origin meaning pleased and from the Irish it also means Long live Ireland..from Websters dictionary. I had to go on line to find it as I checked three dictionaries and couldn’t locate this word. Sometimes we find out what we didn’t know about our loved ones whom have passed on from strangers …impressions that they got… or tid-bits of information about them that they never talked about. A picture is worth a thousand words…

    1. Joni, I agree about the finding out things about loved ones from chats with people who knew them and could maybe recall an event or episode that we never heard about, for whatever reason.

  5. At first upon looking at that word “chuffed” I thought it meant annoyed but on further discovery found out to be quite the opposite..they say “What’s in a word” ..well quite a lot depending on how it’s used….

  6. Yes, it is great to hear people speak nice things of your parents. My parents were well-known in their town. Because of the resemblance, strangers would stop me in the street and ask how my mother was doing, or recall a memory related to my father. My mother has taught three generations in their local school from 1948 until her retirement in 1990. Your father was a great photographer.

  7. Fascinating discussion Jean and a beautiful memory of your Dad. His photo is amazing = I feel like I’m hanging from the mountain looking down. I was never that close to my Dad although when I went to his funeral in 2008 it was comforting to hear the stories and remembrances of his friends and colleagues. He was a good man and we got along well but our lives were very very different and there was little in common.

    That said, I can tell you this, as a cancer survivor the emotional interaction with others regarding the cancer is precisely the same as what you have described when losing a loved one. Some cancer survivors find the topic of their illness to be distasteful and frightening and get upset when the topic is broached. Personally I find the topic fascinating and I will clamber up onto my soap box and pontificate as long as I have an audience. Even when the last bystander has wandered away out of boredom, the momentum of the conversation sometimes carries me onward talking only to myself. It generally takes an external stimulus to break into my reverie – such as a rainstorm if I am outside or the janitor trying to sweep around me if I am in a classroom. 🙂

    I suspect that the difference between the two emotional perspectives is a function of whether or not the person has internalized the event. For those who have accepted it as a part of life and learned to cherish it, the emotions often bring back fond memories ( with the loss of a loved one) to feelings of thankfulness and gratefulness (having survived a life threatening disease) . This actually dovetails well into a conversation we had here a short time ago about time being like the rings on a tree. Accepting that and making peace with knowing all that has ever happened will always remain a part of who we are, plays a large role in whether the accompanying emotions are positive or negative.

  8. Ah, so that’s where you get your eye for a good photograph – from your dad. I think it’s lovely and a great compliment, for others to remember our loved ones and remind us of the fond memories they have of them.

    1. Jean, thanks for your kind words re photography. Dad was passionate about it for about 60 0f his 90 years so some of it had to rub off!! He was a student of it while I just dabble.

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