Question from Mandy: Hi Ann, I lost my 10 year old daughter almost 3 years ago ,her younger sister was just 2 at the time ,we have always talked about Lauren even though we cry she seemed to be coping very well but recently she has been getting upset in school & tells the teacher it's because she misses her sister ,it's so heartbreaking
I try to tell her that Lauren is always watching over her & point out white feathers & bright stars to comfort her
I don't want her to feel that by mentioning Lauren she will upset me
is there anything you can suggest
thank you Mandy
Hi Mandy, it is great that you have been able to continue to keep Lauren’s memory alive for her sister. Your youngest daughter (sorry I don’t know her name) is at a stage in her understanding, of realising that death is permanent. She may still not quite understand what permanent means. Don’t be too concerned if you cry when talking to your daughter about Lauren. This will help her to understand that it is ok to show her emotions too. Let her know that sometimes it can help you when you cry. Sometimes children will offload to other people they trust such as teachers in order to protect their parents. This does not mean that they do not feel comfortable in talking to their parents. Sometimes the closer the family unit, the more beneficial external support can be as everyone is protecting one another. It is great that she has felt comfortable enough to talk to this teacher.
Children at this age can generalise too. Although she has said she misses Lauren, it might be worth checking out what she means by this. What would she like? It maybe that she is saying also that she misses the company of another child and as Lauren is vivid she has connected to her. She may be concerned she is forgetting her sister. Your memories will become her memories; she will be able to own them. You may be interested in a book called Badgers Parting Gift. This helps to explain the process of death to a young child.
It may be that Lauren’s sister is in the next phrase now of wanting to know not just who Lauren was and what was she like, but a little about what happened so she can piece her story together. You may like to do a memory jar with her. You will need coloured chalk and salt and a small jar. Measure the salt into the jar until it is full. Then tip onto 4 pieces of paper. Each piece of paper is a memory. Roll the chalk backwards and forwards in the chalk until you get to the colour you want. As you are doing it talk about that memory. You can add glitter to make it even more special. Pour into your jar. Do this with each piece of paper. Your jar will end up with 4 different colours which will relate to the memories you have discussed. You can then write your memories up and frame them. You can do separate ones or one together. This is a great activity which brings fun into the room but also extremely touching for all who take part.
I hope this is ok and best of luck with the memory jar making.
Ann Scanlon – Marie Curie Cancer Care