DEAR ABBY: I'm 52. My mom died when I was 11. It wasn't until I reached my mid-20s that I realized I have no memories of her, and few memories of my childhood before I was 11. Dad and I lived a few hours away from family, and after Mom passed, no one spoke about her much. I imagine that was because it was painful. She was only 29.
I never cried over her death, and I don't remember missing her as a child or teenager. There are only a handful of photos of her and a couple of passed-down stories. I understand that people block memories of traumatic events and things they don't want to remember. I remember the night it happened in detail, but not the memory of her. I have seen a few psychiatrists at different times during the course of my life to deal with stress and daily life issues, and while they were aware of my background, we never really got into this.
For some reason it's bothering me more and more now. I want to remember my mother. When I ask her friends and relatives about her, I get general answers -- she was a nice person, very loving and crafty, etc. How does someone get their memories back? I've heard hypnosis can help, but I'm not sure. Do you have any advice? -- SON LEFT BEHIND
DEAR SON: Many people are reluctant to talk about family members who have passed on because they are afraid it will be painful for the listener. Perhaps if you approached your relatives and explained why you are asking for more details, it might jog some memories. However, if that doesn't bear fruit, then talking with a mental health professional about the fact that this is increasingly bothering you would be a good idea. That person can recommend hypnosis if it's appropriate.