Bereavement, separation and loss impacts all children at some point in their lives. As adults, we still struggle to talk openly about life changing events, making it difficult to support our young people in their time of loss. With this knowledge, and my aspiration to help children with grief I began to teach lessons on the universal topic of loss in my classroom. Together with the children we explored what loss is and all the different types of loss there are. The children were very receptive and had a lot more knowledge than I may have given them credit for. On the other hand, there was also a lot of misinformation and while I could source some age appropriate books, I couldn’t source any hands-on activities to help their understanding of loss. That's where the idea of The Happy Sad Memory Box began to blossom.
Treasuring my life, my memories
Looking back at my own first grief encounter, I wanted exactly what the modern-day child wants; to be included, to be listened to and to be heard in a safe and supported manner. Looking forward, I wanted to create a resource to encourage children to explore their loss and feelings.
The Happy Sad Memory Box is a creative outlet for children to make sense of their loss experience and to understand the confusing emotions that follow. The design of the project is attractive and engaging so the children and the adults that support them can interact with the kit once it arrives.
As a teacher and parent, I want children to be able to understand all the things they think and feel when they face incredibly difficult challenges such as the death of a parent, family break-up and separation. I want children to know that it is normal to grieve, to be able to say what needs to be said, to seek support, to be among their peers and yes, to know it’s ok to still have fun and to have a belief in their incredible ability to cope by learning ways to look after themselves.
The aim of The Happy Sad Memory Box is to:
- Help young people, including those with special needs, to find their voice and tell their stories of loss
- Foster resiliency and emotional well-being
- Acknowledge their own feelings of grief and develop healthy ways of expressing them
- Acknowledge other people’s feelings of grief and adopt supportive attitudes and behaviours to assist them
The Gift of The Happy Sad Memory Box
Children love to receive a gift and this is beautifully packaged by Lisa from ETTCH. It has easy to follow instructions so that you, the adult can be part of the conversation and the memory making. The fully stocked kit is uniquely Irish made and encourages children to collect memories, learn coping skills and to treasure the gift of their own lives.
The Happy Sad Memory Box is filled with stickers, worksheets, affirmations and thought-provoking prompt cards. There is plenty of room in the box so the child can personalise it with photos, drawings and special items that remind them of their loss. Children love writing messages to their loved one on the card supplied and as grief work is never done, children might add Christmas decorations, anniversary cards and so on as time passes.
I hope this practical and engaging resource allows children to reflect on their grief and memories and to find a healthy balance as they continue to grow and support others. You can buy one on the ETTCH website right here.
About the Author:
Kay has a strong educational background having worked in the classroom setting continuously since 1990. Recognising and addressing the emotional needs of children has been central to her creative approach and has prompted her to seek solutions, upskill and share her knowledge with parents, teachers and policy makers through interactive approaches, workshops and conferences. Her greatest skill is listening deeply to the voices of the children and articulating their needs.