By Janet Jensen
After a major loss in my life, I attended a grieving class. One concept I learned is that it's normal to be forgetful and distracted when you've experienced grief, even when you're not thinking about your loss. And that gave me hope that sooner or later ordinary aspects of my life would settle down. And they did.
Then I happened to read a magazine article about a woman who gave her mother, "the woman who has everything" a unique gift. She took 365 small slips of paper and wrote memories of her mother on each. Then she put them in a pretty jar with a ribbon and presented it to her mother. "Read one each day," she told her mother, who promptly reached in, took out one slip, read it, and smiled. They reminisced about the event on the paper. Then, after the daughter left, the mother read each of the remaining 364 papers! She just couldn't ration herself to one a day, she enjoyed them so much.
I returned to my grieving class the next evening and one member said that her familiy was gathering in a couple of months to honor the life of her brother, who had taken his own life. They couldn't afford to do anything expensive or elaborate, but they wanted to do something significant that would bring them closer and help them heal. I thought of the "memory jar" in the magazine article, and told her about it.
Her face lit up. She said it was a great idea; she would ask family members to write favorite memories of her brother and bring them. They'd put them in a jar and take turns reading them. I later heard that it was a great success. They pulled the memories out of the jar and they laughed and they cried and they began to heal.
From simple ideas great things can happen. And in this case, I had the privilege of passing on a story, one that helped a family deal with their grief.