Memory and Grief Journals
Memory and Grief journals give you a place to go to record both your memories, thoughts, and feelings, and how you are dealing with this difficult time in your life.
Most of these journals include many of the same basic ideas; they encourage you to tell about your relationship with your loved one, how their death made you feel, remembering and memorializing, and learning to live again. Hopefully the information below will help you know a little about each book so that you can choose the best one for you.
Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies, by Janis Silverman, 29 pages
This book is for children who know beforehand that a loved one is going to die. The questions in the beginning talk about feelings and give ideas on what to do before she dies; later questions deal with after the death.
About 1/2 is focused on the healing process and 1/2 is about memories and the child’s relationship with the loved one. Almost every page allows the children to either draw or write their answers, whatever they feel comfortable with. Two full pages give suggestions of ways to remember or things to do when grieving.
From the book: “This is an art therapy book that encourages children to express their feelings in words or pictures. It helps them think about what to say and do, how to deal with their feelings, and how to remember their special friend or relative.”
Helping Children Heal from Loss: A Keepsake Book of Special Memories, by Laurie Van-Si & Lynn Powers
About 1/3 is focused on recording memories and 2/3 is focused on the healing process. The book includes 2 tear-out pages for adults to use to help guide their children through the book, explaining the activities on the pages and how they can help the child. The tear-outs also include a page of additional books adults can turn to for help.
Pages such as “Body Awareness” and the “Self-Care Maze” help children realize that it’s important to take care of themselves, especially when they are hurting. The large format of the book gives plenty of space for children to write and draw, perfect for younger children whose letters and drawings are large. It includes a pocket to put small keepsakes in.
From the book: “This keepsake book has been created to help children express their grief, enabling them to cope with the death of someone close. Designed specifically for children, the book encourages self-expression using a variety of techniques comfortable to children – drawing, writing, story telling, collage making, coloring, etc.”
This is a journal for children 8-12. There are a few spots for artwork, but its main focus is on writing, so it’s more appropriate for children who tend more towards writing than drawing. The specific nature of many of the questions also tend towards more mature children.
About 1/2 is focused on recording memories and 1/2 is focused on the healing process. There are many detailed questions and suggestions on what the child can write about, though some statements are made that not all may be true for every child. At the same time, they may help the children look at certain things that they have seen or felt in a different way. It includes a page to list all the loved one’s “favorites” – since the child probably won’t know them all right away, it gives him or her a chance to go research and learn more about them.
The book is separated into specific sections, making it easier to pick out which questions child can answer when he or she is ready. Sections like “Going Back to School,” “Day to Day Coping,” and “Unfinished Business” give many specific questions that aren’t asked in other books.
The author has also written memory books for teenagers and adults, and their topics are all somewhat similar. If you have family members of all different ages but would like to write in your journals together and discuss what you are writing, her books would be perfect.
From the book: “This is a write-in memory book for bereaved children ages 8-12. This journal is a unique tool for children who are grieving over the death of someone they love. There are pages for writing about the person’s life and death, a goodbye letter, a story about us, pages to draw the service, being angry, being happy, and many more.”
Memories Live Forever: A memory book for grieving children, by Sharon Rugg, 33 pages
No specific age group is listed, but it looks to be appropriate for all children ages 4-12. There are pages for both writing and drawing, though it leans more heavily towards the drawing exercises.
All but 1-2 pages are questions about the memories of and relationship with the loved one. It includes a page to list all of the loved one’s “favorites” – since the child probably won’t know them all right away, it gives him or her a chance to go talk to others and learn more about her. Pages are specially marked for photographs, the funeral service program, a newspaper clipping, and other mementos, and one page includes an envelope to put small keepsakes in.
Since the book was created by children, many examples are given to show how other children answered the same questions. This may help the children see that they are not alone in what they are going through. One page gives ideas for other ways, outside the book, to remember your loved one.
From the book: “This memory book was created primarily for children and young adolescents by a group of 12-13 year old girls, all of whom experienced a loss in their own lives. This book is designed to encourage children to work through their feelings and to remember the loved person through a variety of ways such as creating drawings, stories, poems, letters or saving pictures, articles and other mementos of the special person.”
Other journaling books for children not reviewed:
Fire in My Heart, Ice in My Veins: A journal for teenagers experiencing a loss, by Enid Samuel-Traisman, 60 pages
This is more a personal journal to help through the healing process than a memory journal, but three of twelve sections are specifically about memories, and some of the other sections are at least partially about memories. Each section gives a quote from another youth that relates to that section; these help the teens see that they aren’t alone in feeling that way.
The questions/writing prompts themselves give the youth ideas on things they can do to remember outside of just writing in the book; for example, one prompt is, “Our friends got together and did something special in your memory.”
The author has also written memory books for younger children and adults, and their topics are all somewhat similar. If you have family members of all different ages but would like to write in your journals together and discuss what you are writing, her books would be perfect.
From the book: “This journal is for you. It is about you and the person who died. Just reading it will let you know that all your feelings are normal even though some may feel crazy. Writing in it will help you explore your feelings and encourage you to get them out, which is healthy for you. Writing in the journal will ensure that you will never forget.”
Other journaling books for teenagers not reviewed:
Remembering with Love Journal: A companion for the first year of grieving and beyond, by Elizabeth Levang
This book is broken into five sections covering the early days and weeks after your loss, the struggles of grief, continuing towards healing, and beyond the first year. Every page gives a quote, a message of hope, and an affirmation to help you through your grief. Lastly, there are 2-3 suggestions for what you can write about, and almost every page gives ideas for writing about memories of your loved one or about how you are feeling now.
The journal section is separate from the topic section, allowing you to write as much or as little on each topic as you would like. The questions are original and varied, and include topics such as “Needing to feel close,” (What do I do to feel close to my loved one?) and “Memories of the Heart,” (How do I want others to remember my loved one?). There is also an index in the back that allows you to search for specific topics to write about.
My favorite quote is one by the author herself: “The best advice anyone ever gave me was to remember that I never have to stop loving her.”
From the book: “This beautiful companion to the best-selling Remembering with Love offers those who have lost a loved one a place to record and process their grief…. Like Remembering with Love, this keepsake journal offers messages of hope and affirmation to guide the bereaved through the first year of grieving and beyond.”
A Memory Journal: A keepsake journal of loss and remembrance, by Marianne Richmond
This journal is a companion book to the book The Gift of a Memory, also by Marianne Richmond. It is perfect for soon after a loved one’s death, since it includes pages for you to record condolence cards and gifts you received and when you acknowledged the gestures.
The book guides rather than directs you in what to write about – the writing ideas they give are shorter and more general in nature than the other books that have more specific questions. There are ideas for all ranges of memories – a spot to write about keepsakes, to include photos, to record your loved one’s favorite things, and even to write about “seemingly inconsequential things.” There are three spots throughout the journal for you to write a letter to your loved one, so you can write different letters at different times in your healing process.
The artwork is soft, almost comforting in itself, without being cliche. The pieces are generic enough that you can see yourself in them and really identify with the themes in each section.
About the book: “This 80 page journal guides one gently through their individual grief journey with many opportunities for reflection and the careful recording of treasured memories. “A Memory Journal” is wire-bound with an outer hardcover ensuring that this treasured keepsake endures throughout the grief journey and beyond.”
I Remember, I Remember: A keepsake journal, by Enid Samuel-Traisman
This journal is also designed for you to start soon after your loss, and about 1/3 of the book is focused on recording memories and 2/3 is focused on the healing process. It is divided into sections with many questions and writing prompts in each; they cover topics such as “Our Relationship,” “I am Grieving for You,” a place for you to record how you are doing month-by-month for the first year, “Faith and Spirituality,” “Choosing to Survive,” and more. It guides you towards healthy grieving with sections such as “Choosing to Survive,” and “Learning to Grieve in a Healthy Way,” reminding you that there are many around you who are still there for you.
Samuel-Traisman has also written memory books for young children and teenagers, and their topics are all somewhat similar. If you have family members of all different ages but would like to write in your journals together and discuss what you are writing, her books would be perfect.
From the book: “This is a beautiful and supportive tool in care and great regard. There is space for photos, letters, stories, personal history and goodbyes. There is space for writing about difficult decisions, first venturing out and hope. This journal can be used as a keepsake for the family to enjoy for generations, or it can be used as a personal journey through grief.”
Other journaling books for adults not reviewed:
- Angel Catcher, by Kathy Eldon and Amy Eldon Turteltaub
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