For awhile now I’ve been wanting to do something special with some of the things I have that were Sue’s or that remind me of her.
I really like the idea of giving Szaba a physical place to go when she misses her grandma or wants to know more about her. That’s why I decided to create a “Sue Memory Box.” I got the idea from Keys to Helping a Child Deal with Death and Grief by Joy Johnson, a resource I found while doing research for my book.
Johnson talks about the importance of providing keepsakes and memories for a child because it demonstrate a constructive way to deal with emotion, as well as helping a child feel closer to the deceased. She said that “what you carry forward of that person is a legacy or gift they have given you” and that, by passing the gift of that legacy along to your children, it’s a way for the deceased to go on living.
I particularly loved this point from the book:
“A relationship doesn’t die along with the body of the person. The relationship simply changes. There are several things we can do to make that relationship change a healthy one … Looking at how we’ve been taught to grieve gives us the option to change anything that holds us back or harms us and preserve and pass on to the next generation those customs and teachings that help us move through our grief in healthy, healing ways.”
So far, I bought a box I liked and put these things inside:
- photographs of Sue
- a breast cancer bracelet designed for Sue
- a pair of earrings I bought with Sue in an artist’s home on our Bali trip
- some meaningful letters and e-mails that Sue wrote to me
- an art print Sue bought from a street vendor in London, her favorite city
- the program from Wicked, her favorite musical
- the scarf Sue hand knit for Szaba’s first Halloween costume (Amelia Earhart)
Now I’m realizing this project could (and should) be a work in progress. Maybe it will never be “finished,” but it will always be here when I need it and when Szaba needs it.
It’s also good reminder: It’s not about finishing something or trying to make it perfect. It’s about being happy with what you have, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it.
Consider creating your own box in honor of someone you miss, or even in honor of the passing year. What would you put inside?