Kid friendly memorials of your deceased family member

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After letting your children know about the death of a family member, set aside some time with your kids to memorialize the person in a way that makes sense to them.  You might make a photo tribute of grandma that the kids put together.  Some families will release balloons.

Our family attempted to light paper lanterns in honor of their great-grandma.  These turned out to be much bigger than expected.  Then a down draft sent the lantern into a neighbor’s tree.  We had to get a hose and water down the tree before we set it on fire.  While our memorial didn't go quite as expected, we all agreed that grandma would have had a good laugh about that!

The important thing is to do something meaningful that your children will remember.  It will make them feel good that they did something for their family member that passed away.

Here are some ideas to help children with their goodbyes to a family member and keep the person in their memories:

photoxpress image - balloonRelease balloons at home or at the cemetery. Here is how one young boy remembers his grandmother with balloons.

Release lighted lanterns in a field.  Here is a scene from the movie Tangled showing the lantern scene.  The king and queen use the lantern to memorialize their daughter who is missing.

Create a memory box of cherished items.

Add a tree ornament with the family member’s picture on it. Many craft stores sell ornaments where a photo can be inserted into it.

Draw a picture of the family member or one of their favorite things.

Have your child write a poem about your family member. The FamilyFriend website has many ideas for memorial poems.

Bake a cake on the person’s birthday.

Include a picture of family member in your child's bedroom.

photoxpress image - seedlingPlant a tree or flowering bush in your backyard in honor of your relative.

Make a pillow with the family member’s picture on it.  Here’s how from Martha Stewart.

Look through photo albums and talk about fun times your child had with the relative.

Create a scrapbook page about the family member.

Make a garden stone with the relatives name on it (e.g. I love you grandma). Here’s how to make one from Kidzworld.

Volunteer or give money to a charity that was important to your family member.

More resources on death for special needs families

Why people die -
Why people die young -
What does it mean to be dead? -
Addressing death when you have an elderly relative -
Telling your child a family member died -
Handling anxiety, sensory and behavior issues at a wake or funeral -
Going to a wake social story -
Going to a funeral social story -
How to behave at a wake or funeral social story -


Dawn VillarrealAbout the writer

Dawn Villarreal runs One Place for Special Needs, a national disability resource that lets you find local and online resources, events and even other families in your neighborhood plus over 4,000 online resources! Stay awhile and check out the site. She is also moderator of Autism Community Connection, a Yahoo group for families in Illinois. Reprint permission granted by including: Reprinted with permission from One Place for Special Needs