Taking steps to preserve memories of loved ones is key to healing after loss.
Even though loss is
out of our control, making sure positive memories of family and friends aren't forgotten is
within our control. This recognition is empowering. It makes individuals feel stronger and boosts their well-being. This is true for adults and children.
"People heal when they honor the legacy of somebody they've lost," says
Ken Ginsburg, MD, MSEd, FAAP, Co-Founder and Director of Programs at the
Center for Parent and Teen Communication.
How can we as adults, help children commemorate these important relationships?
5 ways to remember together
Here are five ways parents can help their children and teens remember lost loved ones in healthy, healing ways. Share these ideas with your son or daughter. Do them together. The ideas below are inspired by
Allison Gilbert'sPassed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive:
Create a memory garden. Visit your local nursery and buy a loved one's favorite herb, plant or flower. Next, add several "Love Rocks" to the Memory Garden to make the space even more special. "Love Rocks" are inexpensive to make. All you do is take a piece of fabric and cut it into the shape of a heart, perhaps using a shirt that belonged to the loved one or even a pair of jeans. After that, glue the fabric heart onto a smooth stone with craft glue. Since the stones are going to be used outdoors, make sure to also use an acrylic sealer.
Frame their handwriting. Frame a handwritten recipe or a loved one's signature on a letter. This not only gives families the chance to sort through these items, it cracks open opportunities to talk about the loved one whenever friends come over to visit.
Upcycle clothing. Reimagine a loved one's favorite sweater, shirt, or pair of jeans. Gather a few pieces and transform them into teddy bears, throw pillows, or bean bags. Pieces of fabric can also be used to create one-of-a-kind quilts.
Repurpose jewelry. Necklaces, cufflinks, and charms don't have to stay as-is. Examine each piece. Decide what's worth keeping in its current form and what might lend itself to some creative redesign.
Celebrate their words. Jot down a loved one's funny or poignant sayings as soon as they come to you. Consider ways to make some of these words or phrases an indelible part of your home. One way is to paint a little sign using these words (do this activity with your child!) and display it on a bookshelf.
A life's journey
Keep in mind that grief comes and goes over time, and there's no doubt children will experience the same loss differently throughout their lives. Milestones may be especially challenging – for example, when your daughter performs in a show or when your son graduates from high school. And because grief has no time limit, it's essential parents and caregivers make opportunities for remembering as easy as possible.