Over the years, many adults have shared concerns with our staff that their children will forget their loved one who died – or that memories of that special person will greatly diminish over the years. Here at Sunset View Cemetery & Mortuary, we understand the healing that takes place through honoring a person’s legacy after they die. We also understand that children have a difficult time making sense of death. We’re here to help, as we’ve devoted our lives to working with El Cerrito, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond families so they can tell their loved one’s stories through a meaningful funeral and burial service.
When it comes to children who may not remember that final farewell, how can families help commemorate these important relationships? Consider these ideas:
1. Create a memory book that includes photos and accompanying stories, favorite quotes, and funny or poignant sayings your loved one was known for.
2. Frame a hand-written item. This might be a letter, a recipe, or even a signature. You’d be amazing how much comfort can come from seeing a loved one’s handwriting, and how many stories will be brought to mind.
3. Reimagine an article of clothing. A loved one’s well-worn plaid shirt could be made into a pillow. Ties could be incorporated into a quilt. Pieces of fabric from a favorite sweater or pair of jeans can be transformed into a teddy bear or decorative wall hanging.
4. Talk about the loved one’s favorite songs and create a playlist to enjoy for years to come.
5. Repurpose jewelry into a child-size necklace or charm.
6. On your loved one’s birthday, participate in one of their favorite activities with your child and share memories of why that activity was at the top of the list.
7. Jot down your loved one’s favorite foods or meals and prepare or enjoy them together.
8. Help your child select an item that belonged to the person who died, then keep it in a special place like a treasure box.
9. Start a memory journal where anyone who knew your loved one can write stories, quotes, or lessons they taught you. This will be valued, especially as your child grows up.
10. Plan a gathering on the anniversary of the death, where loved ones can gather to look through photos, watch videos featuring the friend or family member who died, and share stories together.
In our own experience, and in talking with the many families we meet with every day, spending extra time with a child to talk about a loved one who died can make a world of difference. After all, death is confusing for children, but encouraging them to express their feelings will help in developing healthy coping skills.
If you have lost a loved one and are having a challenging time, please call us. Grief is a process that happens over time and looks different for every person. It’s important to remember that the healing journey doesn’t mean you forget about your loved one. It means holding onto memories as we go on to enjoy life – just as that special person would have wanted.