Healing Hurting Hearts; Remembrance

Helping Children Remember And Honor Their Loved Ones

By Allyson England Drake, M.Ed, CT

Saying goodbye to a loved one who has died is one of the most difficult experiences for a child.  This painful process can be made a little easier by creating avenues for the child to honor and remember their loved one.  A ritual or activity of remembrance is important because it shows children that their loved one’s life will be honored or remembered for years to come. It provides a time or place for the child to talk about their loved one, hear stories and memories from others, and learn ways to keep their loved one’s memory alive. Actively remembering loved ones who have died is what keeps them with us always.  I have provided a few ideas for remembrance activities for families to do together, but remembrance rituals are most meaningful when they are altered in ways to honor the loved one’s personality, interests, or hobbies.

Some Remembrance Resources:

Remembrance Holidays; not all of these holidays occur during the Autumn season though many do:

  • El Dia de los Muertos (Mexico – pre-contact indigenous religion±Roman Catholic)
    Oíche Shamhna, or Samhain – (Ireland – pagan/pre-Christian/somewhat combined w/early Christianity)
  • Obon Festival (Japan – Buddhist)
  • Chuseok – (South Korea – agrarian tradition)
  • Hungry Ghost Month/Hungry Ghost Festival – (Multiple countries – Buddhist/Taoist)
  • Gai Jatra Festival of the Cows – (Nepal – Hindu)
  • Pchum Ben – (Cambodia – Khmer/Buddhist)
  • Pitru Paksha or Shraddha – (Multiple countries – Hindu)
  • Fiesta de las Ñatitas – (Bolivia – Aymara indigenous tradition)
  • Qingming Ancestor’s Day/Tomb Sweeping Day – (China – cultural tradition for all (or almost all) Chinese ethnic/religious groups)
  • Radonitsa – (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine – Russian Orthodox)
  • Totensonntag Sunday of the Dead or Silent Day– (Germany – Protestant)
  • Tiwah – (Indonesia – Kaharingan of the Dayak Ngaju people)
  • Thursday of the Dead – (“The Levant”: multiple countries, Middle East and Mediterranean – Christianity and Islam)