When someone we love has died, memories that we have made previously become important to us. This is a way for us to continue the bond between ourselves and our loved one. Continuing bonds is an important way for children, young people and adults to keep these memories alive. By continuing to keep memories alive it helps to validate a child or young person’s emotions, this will then help them to express both their thoughts and their feelings.
Grief is not something we go through for a short period; grief will always be there and life will grow around your grief. Overtime it can become more peaceful, but will always be part of you. Grief can bring many different thoughts, feelings and memories. Over time these memories can become warm and the connection with your loved one can grow. When a loved one dies, we don’t leave them behind or become detached from them. We remain connected with our loved one, we carry them with us always throughout our life.
There are many ways in which people create and continue their relationships and bonds:
Writing letters about achievements, sporting activities, special events or everyday life. This can be beneficial if children are going through a difficult time or if they are celebrating something and they wish their loved one was there for it. For older children they could write a journal, writing directly to their loved one.
Sharing memories with other family and friends is a way to continue those bonds. Other people may share something you don’t know, giving you new acquired information to continue your bond and letting you find out more about your loved one.
Wearing something that helps you feel connected to your loved one, it could be something that helps you feel connected to them, or something they gave you, something of theirs to wear or even an item that reminds the child/young person of their loved one. For younger children it is especially hard for them to hold onto memories, so keeping items and objects will be helpful for them.
Smells are particularly good for younger children, something that smelled of their loved one or a scent that they wore sprayed on clothing or a teddy bear, to help them feel closer.
Photographs & Videos
Some children perhaps were too young to have memories of their loved ones and acquired memories are the way they remember them. Talking to them about photographs and videos they are in with their loved one and hearing all about where it was taken, what they were doing, and were they on holiday or where they were. Talking to them openly about the memories you have, and others have will help them to continue their bond with their loved one and help them in acquiring memories they need to do this. Listening to voice recordings will help them picture their loved one.
Reading letters, hearing their funny stories, reading their recipes, hearing from friends and other family members about their memories will all help to continue their bond.
When a loved one has a life limiting illness
Memory building can begin before a loved one dies. If there is time and if it is possible, it’s not always possible for varying reasons. The way in which you can help with making those memories could be recording your loved one’s voice. People often say they forget what a person sounds like. It could be questions they answer, their best memories or favourite things, which will help to continue bonds when they are no longer here. A recording of different messages for celebrations and milestones. Or written cards or letters for occasions and milestones. This can be comforting for the person who is ill and also to help with memories. If the recording is for a child, it can be comforting to perhaps read their favourite story on a recording. There are many ways in which this can be done, and it will be personal to you.
Making an emotional interview together can engage everyone at the same time. This can be talking or writing examples of this are “my favourite recipe is”, “my favourite book”, “my favourite film”, these types of things can open conversations and bring together some lovely memories to keep and continue bonds. Putting favourite photographs in an album with where the picture was taken, who it was with, and also the date is a great way to build memories and help the children/young person to know the information about their loved one.
We are here for you. For anyone struggling to cope, our helpline is open Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 12.30pm. Call 01342 313895 if you need support or advice. We help bereaved children and young people and those facing the death of a loved one in Surrey, Crawley, Mid Sussex and West Kent.