Helping Children Honor A Loved One
Experiencing the death of a loved one is incredibly difficult for all grievers, but what makes it even more difficult is explaining the meaning of death to children while helping them cope healthily. Our children often struggle to understand death and why they can't see their loved ones anymore. As they grow older, they begin to learn that death is inevitable and permanent. Nevertheless, it's important to remember that they still require guidance in the grieving process and should be taught ways to honor and remember their loved ones.
The purpose of this article is to act as a comprehensive guide for parents and caretakers to come up with memorial projects that kids can do, making the initial grieving process more manageable. Hopefully, the tips we offer will help you and your children remember, mourn, honor, heal, and educate future generational family members on who your loved one was and how to recognize and remember them.
What Is A Memorial Project?
Taking steps to preserve memories of loved ones is essential to healing after a loss. Memorial projects or memorial keepsakes are unique craft ideas to remember a loved one. They are designed to make funerals and life meaningful after a death. Memorial projects are a representation of your loved one and can be DIY craft projects that can be fulfilled by anyone who is grieving.
Memorial projects can be anything you prefer, so long as their purpose is to keep memories alive. Suppose you want to preserve some pieces of your deceased loved ones clothing; a popular memorial project would be to convert them into a pillow cover, a casual tote, or even a blanket.
This way, you keep a part of them with you forever. Alternatively, suppose you prefer to combine all your favorite photos of your loved one to one area which highlights all their milestones and most adored memories.
In that case, you can create a photo collage or a photo board display. The purpose is to keep the memories alive and the best part is, they are easy to do projects that can be shared with your children and the entire family.
Why Would A Child Want To Do A Memorial Project?
There are various reasons why a child would want to do a memorial project. Below is a list of some of the most common reasons for a memorial project.
HONOR A LOVED ONE THEY HAVE RECENTLY LOST
Honoring a loved one is something the surviving family and friends will do to celebrate the love they had for their loved one. Saying goodbye is one of the most challenging things humans will face, so a way to ease the emotional pain is to commemorate their life and cherished memories.
HELP WITH THEIR GRIEVING PROCESS
Doing a memorial project is an excellent way to help with the grieving process as it can help you redirect your pain to an outlet with sentimental meaning. Acknowledging and rationalizing your pain is the hardest part of grieving, so taking on a project designed to create positive memories of a loved one can help reset your emotional state to one that is more positive.
This is an excellent way for children to understand their grief and learn about death.
TO HELP THEM REMEMBER THEIR LOVED ONE IN THE FUTURE
Losing a loved one as a child is not only difficult, it makes it harder to retain memories of them as they become growing adults since memory capacities are limited. In this case, it's helpful to develop creative ways to keep the memories alive and thriving, and to have something to look back one.
MAKE IT AS A GRIEVING GIFT FOR A FRIEND OR RELATIVE
No doubt, finding the right words to express our condolences to a friend or family member can seem impossible. Sometimes the best way to show our support is to make a sentimental gift that serves the purpose of aiding the grieving process.
Memorial projects vary greatly, making it easy to find the perfect gift for anyone. The best thing about this is that they last a lifetime, and the meaning will never fade.
While a memorial project can also be used as a heart-warming gesture to show a family or friend that you care, there are other ways in which you can help them. We have an excellent on Ways To Support A Famiily Member Or Friend After They've Suffered A Loss that you migh find helpful.
15 Ideas For A Kid-Friendly Memorial Project
Below is a list of ideas to memorialize a loved one.
1. PAINTED ROCKS OR STONES
These stones can be placed in your garden or just about anywhere your child wants to keep them. The purpose of turning a rock or stone into a memorial keepsake is to decorate it to represent and honor your loved one. You can paint their name on it, an image of something they loved, a quote they always said, and paint it with colors that represent them.
Once you have it perfectly decorated, you can place it outside in your garden, or you can store it away in a safe place to preserve it. Alternatively, you can put it on your living room mantel or over a fireplace, or if it's small enough, you can keep it close to you in a purse or on your nightstand.
Below are a few tips you may want to follow for the best results:
Choose flat, unrugged, and balanced rocks. Doing this will help your artwork come out ideal without extra flaws due to an uneven, cracked, and rugged surface.
Ensure your rock is brushed off to rid it of debris, dust, or dirt particles. Painting over an unclean surface will make the paint uneven and will leave residue streaks.
Once your rock has been brushed clean and evenly dried, you should seal it with an arts and crafts sealer to prepare the surface.
Depending on the primary colors you will be using, you may want to prime the rock with solid white paint. This is to help ensure the final colors are as vibrant and solid as you need them to be. Skipping this step may result in your colors being transparent with the base color of the rock gleaming through.
For best results, visit your local arts and crafts store and pick up oil-based paints, as they will seal and settle onto the rock better than other paint options.
If your rock is placed in an outdoor setting, apply a final layer of primer to help protect it from the harsh weather elements. If you skip this step, you will notice over time that your paint will begin to fade and chip and will need to be touched up regularly. However, this step is not necessary for rocks placed indoors.
2. TISSUE PAPER FLOWERS TO MAKE A UNIQUE BOUQUET OF FLOWERS
Children generally love arts and crafts, and they are excellent at making something beautiful out of a few essential items. Tissue paper flowers are a fun and inexpensive memorial project that you might want to do with your child.
All you will need is tissue paper and colors that will best represent your loved one. You can add a variety of colors, so it appears more life-like. For ideas on how to get your paper flowers started, we have a few basic instructions.
You will need a few materials to complete the project, including various tissue paper colors, scissors, glue, and a pencil or pen.
Have a few vases or jars ready to place them in when complete. Decorate the vase to match the flowers to add more character. You can even add a photo of your loved one in the vase to identify whom it’s for.
The decorating options are endless, so have fun with this project.
3. MEMORY COLLAGE
This is one of the more common memorial projects. It's an excellent way to pay tribute to your loved ones times on earth, with photos that represent their milestones, best, and most loving moments. Below are a few tips you can use to help you make your first memorial memory collage.
Gather all your favorite photos of your loved one. Add some that represent significant milestones or some of the most important memories such as graduations, family vacations, holidays, weddings, births, and of course, all the funny ones.
Come up with a design layout. For a memorial project, a typical design is to add one large photo of your loved one either in the center or on the top, making it the focal point of the collage. Then you would surround that photo with the remaining ones. You can add colors and theme images in the background that represent them. Suppose they enjoyed nature and hiking; give the collage a nature-colored theme with photos of trees and wilderness in the background.
Before you go ahead and permanently glue or tape the photos, play around with how you want to arrange them until you come up with the best layout. Use good quality glue or double-sided tape to secure the photos.
Decide how you want to display your memory collage. You can frame it with a matching theme-colored frame to be placed on your wall for everyone to see. Or, if you prefer to be more private with it and want it for yourself and only a select few, you turn it into a scrapbook.
4. SPECIAL TREASURE BOX
This is an excellent choice for kids to decorate and store items inside a treasure box that belonged to their loved one. Treasure boxes and time capsules have been used for years to secure personal and sentimental items and trinkets.
The best part about this project is that your child can decorate it however they feel best represents their loved one.
You have various options to make the perfect treasure box, and we listed some ideas below.
DIY Photo Treasure Box. If you prefer to save photos only, you can find a small wooden box at your local craft or dollar store to use. If you're the handy type, you can make your own by gathering leftover wood and binding it into a box with a lid. Some people prefer to tape photos of their loved ones all over the box to indicate it's a photo treasure box for a special loved one. Another option is to write or engrave their name on the top and store all the photos inside.
DIY Shadowbox. This is an excellent way to have your child take over the entire project without a lot of help from you. The purpose of the shadow box is to allow your child to add anything that reminds them of their loved one. You can add one photo with a few tiny trinkets representing their loved one.
Store-Bought Treasure Box. If you prefer to purchase one that comes pre-decorated with a memorial theme, this works perfectly fine as well. Even though it’s store-bought, your child can still go ahead and decorate it further on the outside and inside before sealing it with photos and trinkets.
5. SPECIAL SCRAPBOOK WITH PHOTOS OF A LOVED ONE
Scrapbooks are a creative way for kids to get their emotions out and positively exert them. Moreover, kids are so creative that creating the scrapbook will authenticate how they feel during the initial grieving process.
Remember, crafts allows grieving children to express their feelings without using words. Additionally, it's something they can always look back on. Scrapbooks are versatile in how they can be designed and created. Below are a few options to help guide you.
Memory scrapbooks can be used to store things that belonged to your loved one. You can add receipts, photo IDs, photos, and cutouts of their clothing. You can also add letters or notes they wrote that you find lying around the house to help you remember their writing.
Photo Scrapbooks are one of the most common options because people love to keep alive images of their loved ones. Again, this is an excellent opportunity for your child to create a masterpiece that they feel best represents their memories.
6. SPECIAL WREATH FOR THE GRAVESTONE OR GRAVE SIGHT
This is a beautiful way to help your child feel included in the farewell funeral and feel like they are offering a final gift to their loved one. You have a few options depending on your preference.
If you prefer real flowers, you can make the memorial wreath out of an assortment of handpicked or store-bought flowers. Real flowers won't last as long, but some people prefer them because they represent the natural cycle of birth, life and death. Moreover, most kids love picking flowers, so this would be a fun project for them to participate in. If your loved one had favorite flowers, this is an excellent way to pay tribute to the things they loved.
If you prefer to make a more sturdy wreath that will withstand that weather and last much longer, fake flowers will be your best option. You can pick up an assortment of colorful flowers at your local craft or dollar store. Again, you can arrange the wreath with flowers and colors that best represent your loved one.
Once the wreath is entirely constructed, you can add something to the middle with a special message. This is an excellent way to incorporate your child to come up with a saying or quote they feel connects them with their deceased loved one.
7. MEMORY JAR
Making a memory jar is equal parts creative and fun for all children. Depending on your preference, you can make it as large or small as you think is best. Below is a guide on how to make the perfect memory jar.
Pick a jar or vessel that suits your project and decide if you want a jar with a sealable lid to add items into it that you want to preserve.
Create a list of items you want to add to the jar. Over time, we tend to forget even the most loving of memories, so ensure you're writing down everything you think is important for your child to remember. Make a list of the most sentimental items that would fit in the memory jar.
Once the jar is filled, you can design its outer side that best represents your loved one or however your child wants to. You can paint it, write a message on it, add ribbon, or leave it bare.
8. DIY PHOTO PENDANTS
This is a beautiful keepsakes for all mourning loved ones as it allows you to keep your loved one close to your heart. Furthermore, photos are one of the oldest forms of memory keeping.
This is an excellent project for any child who wants to create a sentimental item to help them feel better in a very confusing time. DIY photo pendants and photo engraved jewelry are straightforward to develop; below is a guide for you.
Determine what type of surface you want to use. You can find various options at your local craft store, dollar store, Etsy, and Amazon. Some of the more popular options are bubble caps, metal or wooden pendant blanks. If you're feeling a little extra creative and want to use something you can find in your home, options are bottle caps or durable cardboard.
Once you decide which photo you want to use, you can either resize it on your computer and print it or have a local department store print it for you. Some department stores sell pendant size photos, so shop around for stores that offer this unique sizing.
A good adhesive and non-abrasive glue is Mod Podge which can be found at your local craft store. You can use this to secure the photo to the pendant. The best thing about this glue is that it dries clear so your child can have fun not having to worry about gluing imperfections.
Once it dries, you can connect the pendant to any chain you have, or you can also make one. If the pendant doesn't have a chain connector, you may need to drill a small enough hole to secure a clasp for connecting the chain.
If you want a better idea of photo memorial jewelry, including its styles and designs, click here for various options to gather inspiration from.
9. CLOTHING PILLOW COVERS
This keepsake idea is a popular choice because they can be used as home decor while remembering and honoring your loved one. Additionally, this is an excellent memorial project for children because they can design them to their taste and use them for a lifetime. The options with this memorial keepsake are endless. Suppose you decide to use an old piece of clothing; we will go over basic steps to help you and your child get started.
Calculate the size of your preferred pillow. Use chalk to draw out the dimensions of the pillow onto the piece of clothing you will be using.
Cut out two pieces from one side of the fabric and make sure to create an overlap for the backside. You need to create an envelope-style pillow cover to add and remove the pillow so that overlap is necessary. For the opposite side, cut out of a solid piece of fabric that perfectly fits one side of the pillow.
Place the front fabric onto the pillow, perfectly centered. Carefully place the two back pieces on the back end. Remember, you will have an overlap of a few inches in the middle of the back pillow from side to side. This is to provide an entryway for the pillow cushion.
Sew all four edges together. If you want to decorate it further, you can add other fabric pieces over the top.
10. MEMORIAL WIND CHIME
This is another excellent idea for a memorial project that is popular. The best thing is, every time the wind-chime blows in the wind, you will be reminded of your loved one, so their memory will constantly be with you. Moreover, this also makes a great gift idea for family and friends who lost a loved one.
There are many designs and styles you can come up with, depending on your style. They are relatively simple to make and only require a few items from your local craft or hardware store or with items you have lying around your home.
Below is a list of a few ideas to get you started.
You can use a cooking colander, a frisbee, an upside-down flower pot, or a large can for the top section that chimes hang from. For the chimes, you can use painted utensils, clamshells which can be purchased in the decoration section of any local store, beads, or smaller cans.
String is an excellent way to connect the chimes to the top piece and layer them on the string. From here, you can decorate it as you wish. You can add your loved ones name or a message in memory of them.
11. PRESSED FLOWERS
Pressed flower artwork has become increasingly popular in the crafting space in the last decade. It is a beautiful and sentimental way to honor and remember your loved one by using some flowers from their funeral. Below is a guide on how to make pressed flowers.
Press together flowers between two sheets of glass. Alternatively, people use parchment paper placed inside a book with flowers squished in the middle. It is recommended that you allow the flowers to remain untouched for 2-4 weeks for best results.
Once the flowers are dried out after 2-4 weeks, they should appear brownish in color. You can then remove them and use them in a craft project.
An excellent idea is to add them to a picture frame, and you can include a photo of your loved one in the background, maybe their favorite quote or something that signifies the flowers are to represent your loved ones life. The best part is, since the flowers are dried and preserved, they will last forever in the picture frame. While this is a lengthy project, it is still an excellent way to get your children involved.
If you’re seeking more information, we have a great article that provides excellent tips and ideas on preserving funeral flowers.
12. MEMORIAL PHOTO LUMINARIES
This is another excellent and lasting memorial project that can bring lasting memories to your home in the form of a centerpiece. It is a keepsake that can be used to decorate your home, with light radiating through translucent photos of your loved one.
This is an easy craft project you can make with your children, allowing them to decorate the frame, choose the images, and set the theme. The setup is rather simple.
A photo luminaire is four photo frames glued together to form a square or rectangle. You add four photos of your choice into each frame, but the images should be printed from your laser printer, ensuring the candle you will insert in the center will beam light through the photos. All supplies can be purchased from your local craft or dollar store.
13. CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS
Keepsakes like this are sentimental and have so much meaning. An excellent way to help your children honor and remember their loved one is to create a Christmas ornament out of clothing. Below is brief description on how to create an ornament.
Cut the clothing into the shape and size you prefer, fill the inside with stuffing. Stitch the front and back fabric together.
If you want the ornament to have more uniqueness, use one piece of fabric for the front and a different one for the back. For example, use a favorite t-shirt for the front side and fabric from a favorite pair of pants on the back.
14. PHOTO BOARD DISPLAY
This is certainly among the more common memorial projects, and that's because they display all your favorite photos and memories of your loved one. With a photo board display, all you need is large cardboard, a few pieces of string that will be used to hang the photos from, and paper clips. This project allows children to be as creative as they want.
You don't only need to add photos; instead, you can also include small letters your loved one wrote, lightweight trinkets, or anything that can be easily clipped onto the string.
The string will be horizontally attached to the cardboard, one below the other, forming rows. Clip photos or small items to the clothes hanging clips. The purpose is the hang all your favorite photos on the string ropes, creating a large display of memories so add anything you prefer.
You can top it off by adding decorative battery LED lights to light it up in the evening.
15. VASE FOR FUNERAL SERVICE FLOWERS
Allowing your child to prepare for the funeral can effectively incorporate happy elements into a very tragic event. The beauty of this project is that you can take the vase home after the service and use it as a keepsake. There are many ways your child can use their creative side to decorate the vase.
Paint the vase with a color theme that best represents their loved one. Decorate it with imagery, quotes, or a favorite memory. Fill the vases with flowers to finish the look. Depending on how long you want them to last, you can use real or fake flowers. Display these around the funeral service, and don't forget to take them home at the end of the service.
We can appreciate that memorial projects are only a tiny part of the work when it comes to guiding your child through the grieving process. So, if you are looking for more information on how to reintegrate your child into school after taking some time away, this article provides some guidance on how you might want to go about doing that.
What Types Of Supplies Would You Need For A Project Like This?
Fortunately, most DIY memorial projects can be done with arts and crafts supplies or similar material that can be found either in your local craft store, hardware store, dollar store, Amazon, or Etsy. Depending on the project, you may even have items lying around your house. Below is a list of supplies and materials you will use for any projects listed above.
Photos and magazines will be necessary for any projects that require images. Newspapers and garbage bags are always necessary with DIY projects to protect your working surface areas from the residue of paint, glue, markers, and sprays.
Items of the deceased that you want to incorporate into the craft. This can include clothing, trinkets, letters, etc. Also, DIY craft items such as glue, crayons, pencils, tape, etc.
Laser printer and computer for printing will come in handy. Other necessities may include candles and LED lights for photo luminaries or lit-up photo jars for projects, string and mini clothes hangers for photo collages, flowers and tissue paper and vases, jars or rocks for keepsake decoration projections.
Where Can You Do Projects Like These?
Fortunately, there are various options to get your child involved in creating their memorial project. Kid-friendly craft ideas for memorial projects can be found in many places in your local municipality, including Churches and private businesses that offer courses for specific craft projects. Below is a more exhaustive list.
Depending on your circumstances and available time, creating a memorial project at home might be the most comfortable option, particularly if you and your child are grieving the recent loss of a loved one.
Some craft stores and private art businesses have special classes for DIY art projects, including memorial projects. If they don't cater to memorial projects, you can always create your desired project and cater it to your needs.
Most churches offer arts and crafts sessions for children and teens, and they offer space for children to create memorial projects before the funeral service.
CHILDREN GRIEF SUPPORT GROUPS
Children’s grief support groups often offer special sessions to do things like this to assist with the grief they are experiencing.
Facebook is an excellent resource that is probably the most conducive to providing a platform for social groups. You can join many digital and in-person groups, and you may even find local memorial project groups on the platform.
Where Can I Find More Ideas?
Due to the thriving digital media arena that has become a regular part of our lives, there are plenty of options to gather influence and inspiration for memorial projects. Below is a list of the most common resources.
YouTube is among the most common resources for all DIY memorial projects, and that's for a few reasons. It offers you access to endless content creators so you can choose the one who you believe provides the best ideas and tips for your project. Most DIY channels walk you through the process, almost as though you're with them in person, this is an excellent option for inspiration and tutorials for anyone new to creating their craft projects. Additionally, it is a free resource.
Since Pinterest's inception, it has been known as the go-to for DIY arts and crafts inspiration. The social media platform is designed as a visual search engine and has continuously grown in popularity. It is among the more preferred sources for craft ideas. All you need to do is type in the search bar "memorial projects," and you will be presented with thousands of pictures and ideas that will lead you to pages that offer step-by-step guides.
Instagram is another excellent social media platform that offers free and trendy inspiration for all your memorial project needs. You can find pages in the search bar that specialize in this niche, or you can search through "memorial project" tags for inspiration from individual uploads. It is slightly more difficult to find thorough tutorials, but you can indeed find inspiration for ideas and styles.
While craft books are not as preferred as other digital sources, they are still a widespread and valuable source for gathering inspiration. The best part about craft books is that they are evergreen in nature, meaning they include ideas from years ago and current ones, rather than only new and trendy ideas.
For example, if you consider Instagram, the algorithm pushes aside older content in favor of more recent content, meaning you lose out on the true variety of options. Craft books will include memorial project ideas relevant decades ago along with newer ones, so you can choose which ones you prefer the most.
Google is your best friend when it comes to seeking information on pretty much anything. If you want quick ideas, you simply need to search "memorial projects" in the search bar, and you will be presented with the most popular blogs and websites that offer you suggestions and tutorials. Moreover, you can utilize Google Images for a comprehensive list of relevant images that can then direct you to the web page the image belongs to.
While Etsy is an e-commerce store for small businesses, it is an excellent source for craft ideas because the platform is centered around homemade and vintage items and craft supplies. If you search for memorial projects or memorial keepsakes, the search results will offer you sellers who handmake such items. It's an excellent way to get inspired with ideas.
Kid-Friendly Memorial Projects Frequently Asked Questions
How can I help my child remember a loved one?
Taking steps to help your child remember a loved one is essential in the life-long grieving process. Creating a memorial project is an excellent first step that will last forever. Additionally, parents should always make time to remember and reflect, to keep memories alive.
It's important to note that grief can resurface in tangent with life milestones such as graduations, weddings, and notable achievements, so always reserve time to remember a loved one during these special events in life.
How long do memorial projects with kids usually take?
Memorial projects vary in time, depending on the type of project you choose and your skills. A photo collage can take a few hours to complete, whereas something more complex like pressed funeral flowers can take up to 4 weeks to complete the entire process.
How do you make a memorial keepsake with a child?
You can make a memorial keepsake with your child by brainstorming ideas with them and allowing them to pick one or a few. Guide them on creating and finishing the project to ensure the result is what they anticipate. Allow them to be as creative as they want because this is an outlet to exert their emotions and feelings.
What kinds of crafts can you do with a small child in remembrance of their grandparent?
You can do many crafts with a small child. Some of the more straightforward ideas that would be fun for a small child would be painting rocks and stones, creating tissue paper flowers, filling a memory jar or vase for the funeral service. Do your best to add photos of their grandparent, so they always remember how they looked.
Where would I look online for memorial project ideas to make with my child?
There are many options online to gather inspiration, including Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram, Google Images, and arts & crafts websites.
How long do memorial keepsakes last?
Your memorial keepsake can last as long as you want, depending on what you make and how you maintain it. Some are easier to maintain than others, so keep that in mind when deciding on a project.
Suppose you repurpose clothing and convert a few pieces into a blanket and pillow cover, you will need to wash them regularly, and over time, the clothing will begin to fade and lose its quality. Whereas if you create a memory box or photo collage, other than dusting, there is little to no maintenance as long as they are stored in places that keep them intact.
Is it better to buy or make a memorial keepsake?
To provide a positive and creative outlet for a grieving child, making one would be the better option. It allows them to express their love and memories and offer a final goodbye to their loved one, and the end product is far more sentimental. They will always look back and remember they made the keepsake in the future.
Helping Our Littles Grieve Deceased Loved Ones
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to helping your child cope with the grief and reality of losing a loved one. But allowing them to find a creative outlet to exert their emotions is an excellent way to aid in the process.
Children often struggle to express their feelings and emotions verbally, so you should never overlook a creative outlet. Furthermore, being faced with the death of a loved one coupled with planning or participating in a funeral can undoubtedly consume a parent's emotions and attention. Therefore, it is beneficial for the grieving child to take time and focus on a project if their parent is busy and struggling with heavy grief.
February 9, 2022 by Jeri K. Augustus