Chapter 7: Staying connected with the person who died

Rituals and activities

The expert says
Andrea Warnick, children's grief therapist, explains that death doesn't end the relationship and shares ways to maintain the connection with the person who has died.Video transcript

I've been there
David describes his family's enjoyment as they watch old home movies.(3:22)Video transcript
I've been there
David describes cooking and mealtimes as a way to remember their mom.(3:22)Video transcript
I've been there
Galith speaks about the different ways the family remembers their dad.(3:22)Video transcript
I've been there
Omo talks about how they remember Stella.(3:22)Video transcript
I've been there
David talks about the sadness of special occasions and creating new memories.(3:22)Video transcript

At times I wished I lived in a culture that handed me the rituals. We ended up developing a lot of our own though. The kids love going to their mom's favourite restaurant on her birthday.  

Their uncle was an environmentalist who loved cheese and adventures.  So every year on his birthday we try a new cheese, do something for the earth, and have an adventure.    

Rituals can be part of cultural, religious or spiritual heritage. They may be time honoured practices a family has followed for generations or they can be new activities that become part of the family fabric. 

Family rituals

Here are some examples of rituals some families have adopted:

  • Light a candle.
  • Set a place for the person at the dinner table.
  • Reserve a place in the home for photos and mementos.
    • This might include the urn if the person was cremated.
  • Remember the person at family birthdays and other holidays.
  • Continue to mark their birthday.
    • For example: Cook their favourite meal, go to a playground they loved or hike their favourite trail. 
  • Tell stories about them.
    • These can be shared with future generations to keep history and connection alive.   
  • At bedtime, talk bout the best and hardest parts of the day that the child would like to share with the person who died. 

Arts and crafts:

  • Decorate a frame to hold their photo.
  • Sew a pillow case, quilt or blanket from their clothing.
  • Draw pictures of favourite memories.
  • Create a playlist of music that reminds your child of this person.
  • Make a memory necklace or bracelet with beads to represent different memories.
  • Decorate a memory box for photos, letters and other mementos.

Individual practices

  • Talk or journal to the person who died.
  • Continue activities they once enjoyed together.
    • Such as baking, nature walks, going to the hockey game or theatre. 
  • Take up one of their hobbies.
    • Such as gardening or photography.
  • Wear or carry a special item they once wore.
    • Such as a watch, scarf or jewellery.
  • Reflect on what they taught your child and hoped for them. 
  • Remember how they liked to spend time together.