Emma’s Place Activity Suggestions
 In these uncertain times, when many of us are house-bound, it can be difficult to know how to fill the hours.  When families are also coping with the loss of a loved one, those empty hours can seem especially long.  Although, we cannot meet with you face-to-face at this time, we wanted to send you some suggestions so that you can continue the important work you have been doing as you grieve your loss. You can simply use items you already have at home!

Make a collage for your loved one

Using images from old magazines or fliers you get in the mail, you and your child can create a collage of all the things that remind you of the person you lost.  Remember to talk to each other about why you chose certain images.  It is a wonderful way to share stories and experiences with your loved one that you may not have talked about before.

Look at pictures and create a photo album of memories

With school not in session and many parents working from home, take some time to finally organize all the pictures many of us have piled up.  You can do that digitally by creating folders on your computer or manually by putting them into photo albums or scrapbooks.  Even construction paper and tape can be wonderful creative ways to organize memories.  You children can even create borders or include special images around the pictures to customize the album and reflect their unique experience of their lost loved one. Every picture has a story attached to it.  Share them with each other and do not be afraid of the emotions that come with them.  If a picture makes you cry, cry together.  It one makes you angry, talk about why.  If it makes you laugh, share the funny experience the picture did not capture.  Children, especially, feel less lonely in their grief when they know they are not the only ones experiencing conflicting and varied emotions.  Talk about how you feel and what you do about it and let them do the same.  It is a way to check in with each other.

Share your best and most difficult memory of your lost loved one

These extreme memories are the gateway to all the others.  They open up a conversation that stretches beyond the experiences and into the grief.  Be honest and your children will do the same.  They wonder about you as much as you wonder about them.

Create an “Emotion Bag” to help cope with the range of emotions you may be experiencing

Children do not automatically know how to grieve.  They are taught by the adults in their lives and the grief they witness.  They need to be guided in the best ways to release and express emotions.  You can create an emotion bag together that they can use when they (or you) need to express their emotions.  Creating it together will allow everyone to share ways they express emotions and to offer suggestions.  The more varied options you have in the bag, the better chance for everyone’s need to be met and for there to be alternatives they (or you) may not have thought to try.

Some suggestions include:

  1. ANGER – dark colored crayons and paper to purge anger on paper; clay or playdough to give anger a face or simply to pound or shred; playing cards to throw into the air and then pick up one-by-one after they have all fallen to floor to have time to cool down
  2. SADNESS – bubbles to blow all the sadness into and watch it float away; special music to help the tears come; paint and drawing paper to give sadness and image and to bring it out
  3. JOURNALS – a book to keep the feelings in.  Maybe to write about how you are feeling or draw it or simply to color a page to match how you feel inside.  Journals are a great way not only to get the emotion out and onto something outside of you but they are also a record of your grief journey and how far you have come.

Make a family “Feelings Wall”

Tape some pieces of paper together to create a blank canvass and attach it to the wall or floor with painters’ tape.  Encourage your child to visit the wall when they need to work through an emotion or when a memory is at the forefront of their mind.  Have washable markers on hand so that, when they need to they can draw what they need to on the paper, adding more if needed.  Just having it available can be very comforting for children.  Try to have it in a spot that is accessible to everyone and prominent in the house.  Those images are a wonderful springboard for discussion as you ask them to share what they created or displayed.

Play “Did You Know?”

Children love learning new things about loved ones they lost.  It adds to their existing memories and reassures them that their loved one’s life mattered and they will not be forgotten.  The goal is for everyone to share a story the other people in the group may not have known about their loved one.  It can be an easy conversation starter that will, ultimately, lead to bigger discussions

Each Family Member Can Set Up a Jar Dedicated to Your Loved On

Cut up strips of paper, and each day each person can write something they appreciated about your loved one, or something you wish you could have said to your loved one but didn’t get the chance to say. You can have these strips to read whenever you want. Each family member can decide whether they would like to share what they wrote with anyone

Think of Names of Meals You Make Based on Characteristics of Your Loved One That Died.

As a way of honoring your loved one at meal time you can take time to name the meal based on a characteristic you appreciated about your loved one. For example, “Dad’s Kindness Kookies”, or “Mom’s Compassion Chili.”