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The Memory Box: a Book About Grief

February 22, 2021

The sun was going down as Daddy drove the car out from in front of Grandma and Grandpa's house.  It had been a good visit with Grandpa and my father's four younger siblings, but someone was missing. That someone was Grandma. "Where is Grandma?" I asked. Mother explained that Grandma had gone to Heaven and that the move was permanent.

I was six years old when Grandma died, and up until then I had not even heard about death. It was a concept beyond my understanding, but through the following days, weeks, and months I came to know what that meant. While I didn't like it that Grandma was gone, there wasn't anything I could do to change it so I did what I knew to do. I remembered the times I climbed up into her lap where it felt like home, recalled her face, her cooking, the way she spoke, and her great patience with grandchildren. Later, I learned that she was a midwife who had presided over my birth. As dear as those memories are, I have often longed for something more tangible of her. A memory box would have filled that longing.

Afraid that she might forget her friend who died, Joanna Rowland created a memory box. Her book, The Memory Box, is based on the experience of creating a box filled with items that belonged to her friend as well as cards, letters, journals and pictures. At the end of the book the author lists ways to support a child who is experiencing grief and makes suggestions for ways to create a memory box.

There are nearly 4,000 hard copy and electronic resources on the topic of death and dying in the Nashville Public Library with 300 of them in the children's department. In addition, there are resources for parents and professionals who work to help children through the grieving process. A short list of my picks follows.

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Donna Reagan has served as Children's Specialist at the Bellevue Branch Library since 2002. She produces My Storytime Place, a local TV show for young children. The ALA's Every Child Ready to Read initiative forms the foundation of her early childhood programming.