Dr Freyja Mann, our Clinical Psychologist and Triage Practitioner, brings forth a tapestry of activities that could help our young ones sail through the turbulent waters of grief. With a careful blend of introspection, creativity, and connection, these activities help to start those sometimes tough conversations and unlocking special memories to treasure.
Cooking up Memories: Whether it's making their favourite roast or ordering in the take-away of choice, there's comfort in taste. Invited over for a pot-luck dinner or barbeques, bring their go-to plate, it’s a way of bringing them along too – maybe their friends might even notice! It’s a way of stirring up a potful of memories.
Letters of the Heart: Start with a simple ‘Kia ora [name]’ and let the words flow. Be it milestones like birthdays, or just those moments when you miss them a bit too much – write, draw, or doodle your heart out. You can read some letter’s to grief over on thee Kenzie’s Gift Dear Grief gallery here:
Memory Jars: Pop your memories into a jar. It can be stories, quirks, or shared moments. When the time feels right, and with someone trusted by your side, open the jar and let the memories warm your heart.
Music Through Time: Playlists can be powerful. It can be their favourite tunes or even songs that convey your current emotions. Find comfort in the melodies and lyrics.
Question Time: There’s often so much we don’t know about our loved ones. We knew them as our mum, dad, brother, sister, but to others, they were a friend, team mate, colleague or coach. Jot down questions and seek out whānau or friends who can answer them. It's like piecing together a cherished puzzle.
Memory Box: Personal and intimate. Collect keepsakes, photographs, or even trinkets that remind you of them. Personalise your box and make it a treasure trove of memories.
Literary Escape: Sometimes, books can become our best friends. They offer insights, tales of others who've walked similar paths, or simply provide an escape. Stay tuned for our upcoming book recommendation section in September 2023!
Journal stories: For some, words flow easier on paper. Whether it's prose, poetry, or sketches, a journal can be a silent confidant.
Completing Thoughts: Encourage our young ones to fill in the gaps: "If I could talk to the person who died, I would say..." or "When I think of my loved one, I feel...". This bridges their feelings with words, giving them a platform to articulate their grief.
Get a Kenzie’s Gift Memories are Forever Kit to do together: The Kenzie’s Gift Memories are Forever kits have activities, tools and advice for creating memories and helping tamariki and mātātahi to understand the big feelings surrounding grief and how to cope. You can order your age appropriate kits (5-12) or young adult (13+) here:
Light a Candle: Introduce a routine where tamariki and mātātahi light a candle at a certain time, maybe during dinner or before bed, to remember their loved one. This can be a quiet moment of reflection where they can talk about their loved one or even just think about them.
Nature Walk: Nature has a calming touch. Encourage tamariki to take walks in nature and encourage them to look for items that remind them of their loved one. It could be a feather, a specific flower, or even a rock. They can collect these items and bring them back home as a memory.
Plant a Memory Tree or Garden: Gardening can be therapeutic. Planting a tree or creating a garden in memory of the loved one can be a healing process. As the plants grow, they serve as a living testament to the memories and love shared.
Create a memory shelf: Dedicate a small corner of the house to the loved one. The tamariki can place photos, mementos, and other significant items there. It serves as a special place where they can feel close to their loved one.
Group Sharing Session: Holding a small group session with close friends or family members where everyone shares a story or memory about the loved one can be healing. It reminds tamariki and mātātahi that they are not alone in their grief and that their loved one touched many lives.
Remember, every child's grieving process is unique. These activities are just suggestions, and it's important to be patient and flexible as they navigate through their emotions. Encourage them to try different activities and see what feels right for them.
For more resources or to seek professional advice, the team at Kenzie's Gift is always here to support you and your whānau. Please visit our website or connect with us on social media platforms to learn more about our mission to support our precious tamariki and mātātahi. We are all in this journey together. Kia kaha!
Invercargill-based Freyja is a Registered Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years’ experience working in mental health. She’s passionate about actively promoting psychological ideas among the community to improve the wellbeing of families.