When someone dies, you lose the memories they have of you.
April 11, 2020 9:10 PM   Subscribe

I came across someone who said, basically, "When someone dies, you lose the memories they have of you, and you lose the part of your identity that was external to you, and kept within that person." It had to have been in the last two years. Does anyone remember this essay? It feels especially relevant as so many memories are being erased right now.
posted by mecran01 to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
So far, all I've been able to find is this from an essay by John Pavlovitz. It's good, but I'm not sure it encompasses everything you saw.

That’s what people never tell you about the real, fundamental, life-giving stuff you lose when someone you love leaves.

You lose the part of you that only they knew.

You lose some of your story.

It simply dies.

posted by bryon at 10:53 PM on April 11, 2020 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, that touches on it. This essay also is close, but not the exact one I'm looking for.

I know the essay spoke about how we store our childhood memories in our parents, and when they pass, the stories they kept that make up our identity are gone.
posted by mecran01 at 3:11 AM on April 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ok, I've come across something else related: Group Transactional Memory is the term for storing information we need with other trusted people. It would appear that the phrase "transactional memory" by itself has something to do with computer science, however.
posted by mecran01 at 8:32 PM on April 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am wondering if it might be from _I Am A Strange Loop_ with Hofstadter talking about his wife's death: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_a_Strange_Loop
posted by kitarra at 5:31 PM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I had that Hofstadter book and traded it for credit. I am never getting rid of a book again.
posted by mecran01 at 9:23 AM on April 20, 2020

Response by poster: From Hofstadter:

“One day, as I gazed at a photograph of Carol taken a couple of months before her death, I looked at her face and I looked so deeply that I felt I was behind her eyes, and all at once, I found myself saying, as tears flowed, “That’s me! That’s me!” And those simple words brought back many thoughts that I had had before, about the fusion of our souls into one higher-level entity, about the fact that at the core of both our souls lay our identical hopes and dreams for our children, about the notion that those hopes were not separate or distinct hopes but were just one hope, one clear thing that defined us both, that welded us together into a unit, the kind of unit I had but dimly imagined before being married and having children. I realized then that although Carol had died, that core piece of her had not died at all, but that it lived on very determinedly in my brain.”

Excerpt From: Douglas R. Hofstadter. “I Am a Strange Loop.” Apple Books.
posted by mecran01 at 8:29 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This cropped up on Reddit
posted by mecran01 at 7:51 AM on April 21, 2020

Response by poster: A closely related essay from Ribbonfarm: Immortality in the Ocean of Infinite Memories
posted by mecran01 at 10:19 AM on April 21, 2020

Response by poster: Here is something sort of related about our cultural memories, and how they are transformed by print, television, and other mediums, eventually fading away.

How We'll Forget John Lennon
posted by mecran01 at 4:50 PM on August 9, 2020

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