Anyone who has lost a loved one knows how painful the experience can be. Physicians recognize up to five stages of grief, as the bereaved person moves from denial, through anger, a bargaining phase, a depressed mood accompanied by crying and feelings of sadness to final acceptance. If you have experienced the death of a loved one, you may find that making a memory box – a box containing items that remind you of the person who has died – helps you deal with your grief and maintain your memories of your loved one.
Choose a box to hold the items that remind you of your loved one. Some companies offer bespoke memory boxes, but the box you choose doesn’t have to be expensive. You could use a shoebox or cookie tin and decorate it yourself by wrapping it in paper or sticking a photo of your loved one on the outside. The only important criteria is that the box is strong enough to last and to protect the items you put inside. If you have pets or small children you should consider using a lockable box to prevent destructive paws or small hands getting inside.
Choose some photographs of your loved one. You could use photographs taken at a particular event, such as a wedding, or taken during a family vacation. The important thing is to choose images that are meaningful for you. Put the photographs in a small album or plastic cover to prevent them being damaged.
Select other items you associate with your loved one. These could be specific to a particular occasion, such as ticket stubs from a concert or sports event you went to together, or more general, such as a scarf or shirt representing your loved one’s favorite sports team.
Include something that belonged to your loved one. Think about the things that remind you of them. For example, if your loved one enjoyed cooking or baking, you could include a cookie cutter or a mixing spoon, or if they did a lot of DIY around the home you could put something like a measuring tape in your memory box. Some people like to include a small bottle of their loved one’s perfume and researchers believe that scent is an important part of human memory, according to the BBC.
Copy any audio or video clips you have of your loved one onto a CD or DVD. Many families will have footage of weddings, family vacations or Thanksgiving celebrations locked away on a computer or video recorder. Most modern computers are capable of creating CDs or DVDs so this needn’t be an expensive process, but ensure you make a back-up copy in case your discs are damaged.
Rita Kennedy is a writer and researcher based in the United Kingdom. She began writing in 2002 and her work has appeared in several academic journals including "Memory Studies," the "Journal of Historical Geography" and the "Local Historian." She holds a Ph.D. in history and an honours degree in geography from the University of Ulster.
Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images