“Memories stick to things. Out of nowhere, something finds your nose, ears, or eyes and you’re on the other side of the country or world or in a whole other decade, being kissed by a doe-eyed beauty or punched by a drunken pal. You’ve got no control over it, none at all.”
--Lynda Rutledge, West with Giraffes
What a perfect quote to express the power of the senses in grief. It shimmered off the page of Lynda’s gorgeous, heartfelt novel.
As she aptly observes, sense memories can come “out of nowhere”—as startling as they are comforting and as overwhelming as they are grounding. Having served for years as a pastor and a co-founder of FaithandGrief.org, I have worked with countless aching hearts grappling with the many flavors of loss. And I have witnessed the complex role all our senses can play in our grief journeys.
They can function as guideposts, rabbit holes, or occasionally, sparkling gems—triggering tidal waves of sorrow, surprise, delight—and even all three in the same moment.