Many people ask me what I mean by Memory Boxes. Let me share with you how I envision them and how the idea occurred to me.
It is customary in many cultures to bring food or flowers to families in mourning. When the friend and family circles are large, more food is given than can be consumed and flowers quickly wilt. I thought of an alternative which would nourish the love and memories of the person being mourned.
In my own experience, I was honoured and delighted to hear stories and personal accounts about my father from a wonderful and disparate group of visitors who came to visit my family during our period of mourning. Many of the stories were part of our family lore and had been repeated often during family gatherings. Some of the stories though we had never heard, especially those in which my father had quietly gone out of his way to help someone or to fight a wrong he couldn’t countenance. We were given newspaper articles, a CD of my father being interviewed on the CBC radio, and of course copies of the eulogies given at his funeral. We collected old photographs, Valentines, poetry his grandchildren had written to him when they were small and little items that reminded us of him. Of course during our time of mourning we were in no state to organize these things and keep them safe for the time we would want to turn to them again. Thus evolved my idea for the Memory Boxes.
Instead of bringing food or sending flowers to the mourners, why not bring them a gift for preserving those stories and items that bring to mind the cherished person who has died. My boxes contain all the elements needed to gather and preserve those memories: fine paper on which visitors can record their own special stories about the person, paper protectors in which to conserve photos and newspaper articles, quality pens and a voice recorder for those who prefer to tell their story orally. There should also be room enough for other items especially associated with one's loved one. These boxes are also ideal for keeping important documents such as the death certificate and location of the grave site.
With only a few details about the person I can create a Memory Box quickly so that you can present it when you go visit. It will never “go stale” and will always be appreciated.