The world is a scary, dangerous place at the moment and grief peeks out and grabs us without warning. While as adults we struggle to rain in the emotions to complete the tasks needed to see our loved ones off to a better place, our children are often confused, saddened and unsure about what to do. It is okay to be unsure of how to approach those feelings of lost in the youth. One way to help kids heal while honoring a lost loved one is with The Memory Book and The Memory Box by Joanna Rowland.
“For many, reading provides a place to go when we have to stay where we are. The Memory Box is just that. Suitable for those both young and old, this gift has a story to be told.”– EveryStep Grief & Loss Services
Kindergarten teacher Joanna Rowland’s best-selling The Memory Box: A Book about Grief has helped thousands of children and families work through the complex emotions that arise after the loss of a loved one, and has been used and recommended by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, EveryStep Grief & Loss Services’ Amanda the Panda program, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, counselors, and more. The story of The Memory Box resonates with children suffering from loss, and grows in popularity year after year.
Now Joanna Rowland is offering another resource to help kids heal while honoring a loved one. With The Memory Book: A Grief Journal for Children and Families, Rowland has created a beautiful grief journal to help readers put her methods into practice. The Memory Book helps grieving families process their emotions together by remembering their lost loved one and creating their own memory album full of photos and keepsakes of the person they lost. With gentle prompts and ideas for journaling, drawing, and talking through grief, this journal will bring comfort in the midst of loss and be a keepsake for families for years to come.
Rowland discusses the process of writing The Memory Box:
“In writing The Memory Box, a book about grief, there were three people and their families that I was thinking about. In 2014, a relative that was meant to get my first published book Always Mom, Forever Dad (a positive picture book on divorce) lost her father suddenly a month before the book’s publication. I knew she needed a different type of book, and that’s when I knew I needed to write a picture book on grief. When I first found out her dad had passed away, I saw a photo of her holding her dad’s hand on the beach with the waves coming toward them. That image stayed with me. I knew somehow that I wanted to make a nod toward that scene in my writing. At the time, I had no idea what that story was going to be. I tried a couple of different ways to write about grief. My first attempt was a nature poem. But when thinking about how I would help a young child through grief, eventually the idea of a memory box came.
I was also thinking about my childhood friend, Scott, who was also gone too soon. He studied birds and had such a sweet soul. I have some sweet memories growing up with him. He’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
During the two years I spent writing about grief, we lost Marisa to cancer. I had coached her in synchronized swimming for years, and she swam with my niece and older daughters. It was heartbreaking. Marisa was so full of life with the most contagious smile.
All of these people were gone much too soon. These families had lost a father, a son, an only child, a daughter and a sister.
I had to get this story right. I think going through grief and taking my youngest to her first funeral at age six, helped me find a way to talk about death with my youngest and find the heart of the story. It still took me over two years to get the story right.
Grief is hard. Everyone has his or her journey with it. Allow yourself to grieve however you need to. There is no right or wrong way. There are support groups out there and other resources to help. Grief can be hard to communicate. I hope The Memory Box can be a tool to foster conversations and help keep the memories of your loved ones alive. The book also includes a guide in back that discusses ways to talk to your child about grief.
For anyone struggling with grief, my thoughts are with you.”
Author and illustrator:
Joanna Rowland grew up in Sacramento, California, where she still lives today with her husband and three children. She teaches kindergarten by day and writes picture books at night. In the summer, you’ll find her at the pool coaching synchronized swimming or cozying up with a book. She is the author of The Memory Box: A Book about Grief, The Memory Book: A Grief Journal for Children and Families, and Stay Through the Storm.
Thea Baker grew up in a country town in England. She is currently living in Australia and working internationally as a children’s illustrator. Thea obtained her BA (Hons) Degree in illustration at the prestigious Falmouth University. Her dissertation was on the subject of grief in children’s books.
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