It is not just adults who need the opportunity to express their grief – so do children. The range of emotions they can feel may include confusion, sadness, anger, worry besides other emotions that may be too difficult for them to express verbally. Therefore, it is so important that they are encouraged to find ways to come to terms with their loss and offered outlets which provide them with a safe and healthy opportunity to grieve.
Creating memories of a loved one through a memory box can be a special way to remember someone and sharing this activity can encourage your child to talk and express their feelings, whilst also validating what the loss meant for them too.
Here’s a process which you can follow to help create a special memory box for your child:
1) Source your box
This doesn’t need to be anything special – it can be an unused shoe box with a closeable lid which can be covered with wrapping paper or plain paper and then personally decorated by your child however they wish. There are also many purpose-built memory boxes which can be bought online which may be more suitable or create more of a desired feel. The best thing is to let your child make the decisions, remember it’s their box – by all means, make suggestions, but try not to take over.
2) Fill your memory box
A memory box can be filled with any item that helps your child remember their loved one and the times spent together – it might include photographs, items of jewellery/glasses that they had worn, cards that had been written for special occasions, gifts they had given to your child, a favourite CD that they listened to, the perfume/aftershave/lipstick they wore, even a momento from the funeral which could, for example, include a poem read out during the service. Let your child decide – it’s their box and they can open it at any time to look through it and feel close to the person they lost.
Try not to simply fill your memory box with random bits and bobs… instead, make sure that each object has a story or memory attached to it.
3) Write a note
This can be a lovely way of being able to look back later on in years to come to reflect on what each item meant as it may be that over time, they have forgotten why a specific picture or item felt important and having a note can act as a reminder – it may be a funny story or poignant moment in your child’s life that they want to recall and reflect on.
4) Share your memories
…. Only if it feels right to do so. Some people like to keep their memories private but if your child would like to show family and friends their memory box, then encourage them to do that. It can be hugely beneficial to share memories and talk about these with others to keep their loved one’s memory alive.
Creating your memory box can be an emotional experience and it may be overwhelming at times. Remember, there is not any rush and it may be created in stages, particularly if your child is finding it too upsetting – just come back to it at another more appropriate time.
And finally, although here we are talking about memory boxes for bereaved children, it can, of course, also be created by an adult too for their loved one.
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