One silver lining to this quarantine time is the opportunity to create connections and bond further as a family while at home! Here are some activities to continue promoting family time, while discussing memories of your loved one you are missing. As always, we’d love to see and hear how you and your family are doing these activities at home together! Email your photos and thoughts about the activities to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family Memory Play: Ages 3-8
Supplies: Child’s toys (action figures, barbies, stuffed animals, etc.)
Have your child collect some of his/her favorite toys and spread them out on the floor. Ask your child to select a toy to represent each family member in the household, including their loved one who died. Then ask your child to act out their favorite memories as a family using the selected toys. Some examples could be their favorite summer vacation, favorite outing as a family, a time that made them feel loved, or a time they could remember having fun as a family. Your child can act out the memory with the stuffed animals, recalling special moments and conversations they remember. A child’s native language is play. This exercise allows them to explore their interpretation of the memory and recall moments they may not necessarily remember just by talking about it.
Bag of Items: Ages 9-12
Supplies: Large bag (such as backpack or duffel bag) and items collected around the house.
Common items in a household can hold significant meaning. Have your child select items throughout the home that remind them of family members and their loved one who died. As your child collects the items, have them place the items gently in the large bag. Once your child has selected a few items, sit down together and pull the items out of the bag and place them on the floor, so all items are visible. Take turns allowing your child to select items and ask your child to specify who the items remind them of and why that item reminds them of that family member. This gives your child a moment to make connections with memories they may not be able to access as freely by just simply talking. Your child can also discuss feelings they have when thinking about the memory.
Memory Art: Ages 13-18
Supplies: Medium for the art project (air-dry clay, paper, canvas, etc.) and markers or paint
Allow your child to select a type of medium in your household to create the memory art. They may use air-dry clay to sculpt a shape to paint, canvas, paper, or whatever you have available in your home. On this medium, have your child draw or write different aspects that remind them of their loved one. These can be words to describe their loved one, activities drawn that they used to love, a picture of them, etc. This is a chance for your child to be creative, while making a lasting piece of art that symbolizes their loved one.
Letter to Loved One: Ages 19+
Supplies: Paper/journal and writing utensil
After a death, there are many things that we wish we could tell our loved one or memories we cherish more deeply now that they have died. Create time to journal a letter to your loved one who died about your favorite memory with them. While journaling, think of the different components of the memory that impacted your senses. What did you see, hear, touch, taste, smell? By channeling the five senses, the memory will become more vivid. This memory could be something small that you cherish, a favorite trip, favorite activity you did with your loved one, etc.
Recipe Reflection: The Whole Family
Supplies: Cooking ingredients, paper, and writing utensil
As a family, take a few moments to sit together and discuss your favorite recipes, as well as recipes your loved one who died enjoyed eating or cooking for your family. As you discuss the different recipes that hold significance to your family, write down as many come to you. On difficult days or days you want to feel closeness to your loved one, you and your child can create a moment of remembering through cooking that recipe. This idea actually came about during one of our evening groups.
One example of a way a simple recipe can hold such power and love, is through the recipe the Pierce family shared with us. Jude and Helena’s dad who died in 2018 was a wonderful cook. His wife Melody described him to be “the only guy (or girl) I knew who was willing to take six hours of his day to make Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon!” One way the Pierce family remembers dad is though his love for cooking. The recipe that the children associate most to dad is “Daddy’s Banana Bread.” Cooking not only creates a moment in time that you share as a family, but also accesses memories of your loved one by thinking about their favorite foods and recipes. As you create your family recipes that provide you comfort, feel free to send them to your evening Group Director to share!