How to Create Your Own Memory Book After a Loss

Creating a memory book after a loss can serve two primary purposes: It provides the chance to relive the memories you shared with your loved one and enables you to share those memories with others who may be feeling bereaved too.

Assembling a scrapbook containing photographs and items associated with your dearly loved friend or family member is a great way to collect these items in one place. It makes a wonderful prompt to talk openly about the influence your friend had on your life and help you process your grief in a healthy, thoughtful, and constructive way. 

Before You Begin

Ensure that the circumstances are right to begin this project. You may prefer to take some time to process before beginning, or if working on the project helps you grieve, that’s okay too!

Start by collecting any photographs featuring or taken by your loved one. Ask others to provide theirs too. Gather any ticket stubs, letters, postcards, paper scraps, birth certificates, life achievement certificates, maps, or even receipts and transport tickets.

Once you have everything you’d like to gather up, make photocopies of the things that also need to lie outside of your memory book. You may not want to stick original copies in your book in case you need to access or copy originals at a later time.

You might also want to print off some resources from the internet too, including logos from favorite sports teams or lyrics of memorable songs. Consider purchasing a scrapbooking kit that will contain everything you need, including patterned paper, tape, glue, and templates to help motivate, inspire, and guide your creativity.

Assembling Your Memory Book

Depending on what feels best, this may be a great opportunity to ask others to help you out. Whether it’s help gathering the things you want to include, or help during assembling, it can be a nice way to spend time commemorating the life of your loved one with others.

Put on some soothing music (or a favorite artist or album of your loved one), spread the collected resources onto a large table, and roughly plan which will go where in your book.

It’s not necessary to have the items in a memory book be in chronological order so don’t fret or get held up by those details. Hold each item in your hands and reflect upon or discuss the meaning. For photographs, glue the copies in and if you wish, include information of where the picture was taken, the year, other people in the picture, and any memories related to the event.

Don’t expect the book to be created from start to finish in one sitting. There may be delays due to the emotional nature of the task. Young children might experience outbursts when faced with photographs or memories they are not ready to process yet. If this happens it’s okay to put the items away and wait a few more weeks or months before trying again.

Keep in Mind

  • Be sure to copy and return other people’s photographs as soon as possible. Items like this are so precious, especially immediately after a loss, and reluctance to lend them is completely understandable. Make it easier by reassuring your friend or family member you will return the items quickly and do so as soon as possible.
  • Do not be surprised if feelings as raw as the initial loss are felt while you assemble these memories. Be prepared to tackle the tough parts of your loss again and reflect on your grief once more.
  • It’s completely normal for you, or others who want to help build the memory book, to feel resistance to this process. There may be instances where you might be ready but others aren’t. It may be beneficial to wait until everyone is close to being in the same emotional place as possible. It’s a-okay to postpone it if necessary.

When Your Memory Book is Complete

You might be tempted to hide the scrapbook when it is complete. For a little while, keep it in full view of anyone who wants to leaf through, whether with you or on their own.

It’s not just something to take out on birthdays and anniversaries. Instead, it might be nice to let your family know that although the person is not there, the memory of them always will be, and it is a topic they can return to whenever they like.

You might even want to take the book along with you when visiting others who have grieved the loss of this mutual family member or friend. It may comfort them to know their loved one is not forgotten. Perhaps they’d even feel encouraged to create a memory book of their own!

Memory books make wonderful gifts for friends and family members, especially for those who may live far from the loved one who died. Above all else, creating your memory book should be a pleasant, warm experience that may help you to process your grief.

The finished result is a truly unique depiction of your loved one, a heart-warming account of your precious time together, and a vulnerable reflection of your loss that you can be proud of.

Photo credit: qiye, Pixabay