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We recently picked up a unique little book at the library called The Memory TreeBy Britta Teckentrup. Mourning the loss of their friend forest animals gather and swap fond memories. For each story they share a little tree begins to grow bigger and bigger…. I won’t spoil the whole story as it’s certainly worth reading with your young ones. Even if your child has not recently suffered a significant loss it’s a great book that can prepare them for Coping with grief in the future but also to think about how we remember and celebrate people who left their mark on the world which has remained long after their passing.
This book left such an impression on me and gave me the idea that perhaps creating memory trees could help young children through bereavement and serve as a keepsake to hold on to.
Trees could be created in different ways:
- Draw a tree on a large sheet of paper. Cut out paper squares to write memories upon which can be stuck on the trees. You could assist your child in writing their own memories, you could add your memories and you could even ask other family members to contribute their memories too
- For a more 3D reminder you could use a real small indoor tree and hang your memories with string and card.
- Some people plant a tree next to their loved ones grave or in an old favourite spot of there’s with a bench or rock beside where people can sit when they wish to spend some time remembering and connecting with them again. Planting a young tree will also give the opportunity for the tree to grow with each visit and memory shared.
- You could perhaps even make the memory tree part of the wake. Friends and family a like can add their memories for you and your children to read through at some time in the future whenever you may be ready.
Of course you needn’t be limited to trees. I remember seeing in a film once, (can’t recall the title maybe you can help?) a woman who wrote letters to a family member who had passed away and took them out into the garden and hid them in between rocks on a wall.
It can be really difficult loosing someone or something you love and even harder still to say goodbye. For very young children finding healthy ways and outlets to express those emotions and to cope with such big changes is vitally important. One concern that many of us have is that we may begin to forget all those wonderful memories we had, that we may forget the tiny details about the people we cherished and still hold dear in our hearts. A memory tree could certainly help ease the fear for children (maybe even adults too) knowing that they will always have those things written down and to hold onto for as long as they wish to keep them.
“Gone but never forgotten.”