The loss of a parent can affect children in many ways, as they struggle to understand the concept and permanence of death. The National Association of School Psychologists states that bereaved children can suffer mood swings, emotional shock and regressive behavior as they come to terms with the reality of death. Creating a memory book can be a therapeutic project that may help a child through the grieving process. The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children suggests that creating a memory book can remind the child of positive experiences with the deceased.
Explore what a "memory book" means to the child. For some, a memory book is a collection of photographs, while others use a scrapbook approach, including mementos associated with the person. Others choose to mix photographs with journaling, poems or quotations. Many online companies now offer tools to create digital memory books, which is another option for children who enjoy using computers or want to print multiple copies.
Gather the photographs or mementos that the child wants to include in his memory book. These might be family photographs or metaphorical images representing a sense of his parent. Using a blank scrap book (or digital book online), work with him to decide on the layout of each page, and explore such options as dedicating pages to memorable events or to parts of his parent's personality. When he is ready, glue each item in place.
Encourage communication by talking as she creates her book, reminiscing about memories of her parent and sharing stories she may not have heard. Be open to hearing her thoughts through the process, and be prepared to provide physical and emotional support as necessary.
Find a special place to keep the memory book that is easily accessible. Some children prefer to share their creations, while others will want to keep their memories private. Keep some pages of the memory book blank so he can add to it as he grows older.
Creating a memory book will only be appropriate for some children, depending on their age, level of maturity and readiness in terms of time grieved. Use your best judgment to determine the right time to create a memory book, and offer the idea as a suggestion, allowing her to decide if she wants to proceed.
Make multiple copies of any precious photographs so the child doesn't use the originals.