Tag Archive | grief support group

Memory Placemats


” If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together…..there is something you must always remember.  You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart….I’ll always be with you.

-A.A.Milne (Winnie the Pooh)

The first Thanksgiving without my grandmother felt like the last piece of a puzzle was missing.  Sometimes I help my five-year-old son put together challenging puzzles.  We get to the end of the puzzle and realize that we are missing the last piece.  We look for it on the bookshelf with all of the other puzzles, but can’t seem to find it.  (My guess is that our mischievous dog, Belle, chewed it up!)

My grandma’s house looked the same during the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without her.  The house even smelled as though she lived there.  I could still smell the scent of her coffee that she made.  My grandfather put out the same tree and decorations, just as she did.  However, her absence at the dinner table was the missing piece of the puzzle.

Last year I created an activity to use with our grief support group before Thanksgiving.  For a few children, it was the first Thanksgiving without their loved one.  The children made memory placemats to use during Thanksgiving dinner or another special dinner.  One child traced his hand three times and wrote things about his mom that he missed.  A few children wrote/drew favorite hobbies and characteristics about the loved one.  They looked beautiful when they were completed!

This is an activity that a child could create for a birthday dinner or the anniversary of the death.  A child could make a placemat in honor of a parent that is deployed or hospitalized.  We used foam sheets, stickers, and paper leaves for our support group.  Use materials available around the house.  Your child could browse through magazines and cut out pictures to glue.  Scissors that make the curvy edges could add a special touch.   Before you eat dinner with your special memory placemat, everyone at the table could say a favorite memory of the loved one.

My memory of my grandma would go something like this:

“I remember how Grandma always made holiday dinners special.  She would have a favorite appetizer that my sister and I loved- black olives!  Melissa and I placed the olives on each finger, eating the entire bowl.  I will always remember a Thanksgiving when my sister and I dressed up like turkeys in our ballet leotards and tights.  We stuffed socks with toilet paper to make feathers.  (My idea, of course!)  We laughed and enjoyed every minute with our grandma.”





Feeling Eggs


“The spring came suddenly, bursting upon the world as a child bursts into a room, with a laugh and a shout and hands full of flowers.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Spring is finally here!  It definitely did not feel like spring last weekend when I visited my family in Ligonier, PA.  My kids were excited to see snow (probably for the last time) and they built a little snowman.  Good-bye snow and hello spring!

I made this nest of feeling eggs for our children’s support group at Safe Harbor.   I bought these eggs last year at a drug store, but purchased more at a craft store last week.  A counselor that works with children could easily make the nest for his or her office.  During our support group meeting, we use the eggs for the opening circle.  Each child passes the nest of eggs around and chooses a “feeling” to discuss.

I personally like to change things up for each season.  Kids love to celebrate the different seasons, so I incorporate different themes every few months.  Another idea is to write questions on paper and place them inside the eggs.  For example, tell me a time that you felt sad/ name a hobby that makes you feel happy/ name a person that acts silly in your family.  If you are a parent, you could use the eggs to begin a conversation about their day when arriving home from school.  This will work well with kids that do not tell you information about their day.  It is also a way to teach younger children about feelings and ways to cope.