There is nothing harder than walking through the grief of an impending loss of a loved one. It is a painful process for all involved. Children are often forgotten bystanders in these situations because they tend to have difficulty grasping the seriousness and permanence of the situation. Many parents wonder if they should shelter their children from the pain. If you have a child who has a close relationship with a loved one who is terminally ill, consider helping your loved one create a memory book with and for your child. The act with bless both the giver and the receiver.
What you will need:
- A scrapbook with blank pages
- Photos of your child with the loved one from birth until the present
Step 1: Talk with your loved one about your idea. Make sure it is something he or she is emotionally ready to do. If not, you can proceed with making the scrapbook on their behalf as a gift to your child.
Step 2: Collect your materials. Make copies of pictures and collect pieces of memorabilia (ticket stubs, tokens, etc.).
Step 3: Take it slow. You may not have a lot of time, but don’t rush this process. If your child is older (8 and up, depending on development), he can participate in the creation of the scrapbook. It will be a treasured trip down memory lane for all involved.
Step 4: Put it together. Starting with your child’s birth, document your loved one’s thoughts and feelings under each picture. For example, if you have a picture of Grandma holding your child as a newborn, the caption could read, “I was so excited to meet you! Tears came to my eyes when I saw you the first time. You looked just like your mother. It made me remember back to the day she was born.”
Step 5: Leave space for the future. At the end of the book, leave pages for events that have not yet occurred, like high school graduation, college, first job, wedding day, etc. Have your loved one write or dictate a caption for each. For example, under the future wedding day picture, it may say, “Your kindness and compassion for others will make you a remarkable husband. I am praying for your future bride now. May you know a love like your grandfather and I enjoyed for many years.” For believers, you can add a page at the end that says, “Until we meet again . . .” as a reminder that a joyous reunion awaits in heaven.
This memory book will provide a lasting keepsake for your child to read and cherish for years to come. You will also be affording your loved one with the opportunity to marinate in the wonderful memories of her life. She will be able to have a greater sense of peace as she leaves behind meaning and hope for her family. As believers, “we do not grieve as those without hope” (1 Thess 4:13) because we know a reunion with the Savior awaits those who trust in Him.