I’m worried I’ll forget my special person who has died

When someone important to you dies, it’s normal to worry that you’ll forget any memories you have of them. This is often a particular worry for children and young people who are grieving. Grieving is not about forgetting the person who has died but is about finding ways to remember them. Remembering someone who has died can help you express your feelings, make memories, and continue to feel connected to your special person.

Is there a right or wrong way to remember my special person?

There is no right way or wrong way to remember and the way you chose to remember is personal to you. Whatever you decide to do, don’t put pressure on yourself to make something or do something that is perfect, or compare with what other people are doing, the most important thing is to do what helps you.

How can a funeral or remembrance service help me remember?

A funeral is a time to say goodbye to your special person and can be a more formal opportunity to remember them. Funerals no longer need to follow a fixed format; you can create your own ceremony that expresses the spirit of the person who has died. Some families choose music that their special person liked, share photographs of them at the service, or recall stories about the person. Whatever you decide to do is personal to you and your family. When planning a service it can help to speak to your funeral director, celebrant or religious leader to explore what might be possible.

How can visiting a grave or remembrance site help me remember?

Some people find that visiting the grave of their special person who has died, or another remembrance site or special place connected to them, can be helpful. How often you visit is up to you – some people like to visit regularly, others prefer to visit on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, other people prefer not to visit the grave but to do something else to remember them. The key thing is not to feel under pressure to do something but to do what feels right for you.

Other ways to remember

Here are some ideas for other ways to help you remember your special person and create memories. You may also find it helpful to watch our short, animated film, 'Remembering someone special who has died'.

Make a memory box or jar 

A memory box is a lovely way to keep items that remind you of your special person. You could include photographs, poems, letters, anecdotes from family and friends, or your own thoughts and memories, or things that just remind you of your special person. You can make your own memory box or purchase a ready-made box.

A memory jar can be made from any container which has a wide enough opening to allow you to place items inside. Children and the whole family and friends can write down their memories on pieces of paper and then ‘post’ them into the jar so that they are captured and not forgotten. At a later date, it can be comforting to pull out a piece of paper and re-discover different memories.

See our resource on creative activities for grieving children and young people for ways to remember someone special to you who has died.

Create a memory book or journal

Creating a journal in memory of the person who has died can be helpful when grieving. It can help you express your feelings and any thoughts or worries and gives you a place to record any memories you have of your special person. Some people find it helpful to look at their journal at a later date to see how they have progressed in their journey of grief and to revisit their memories. As well as writing in your journal, you could draw or perhaps combine both – the choice is yours.  

A memory book can be any kind of notebook or scrapbook in which you can place photographs, poems, letters or your own thoughts. Some families choose to do this together, which helps them to talk about the person who has died and share memories that are special to the whole family.

As well as making your own memory book, there are two books available via our shop for early years and primary school age children: 'Remembering' and 'Someone I know has died', which can help facilitate this activity.

Make an artwork

Making something in memory of your special person who has died can help you feel connected to them while also giving you something to treasure, whether it is painting, sketching or sewing. Some people find it is comforting to have something made from the person’s clothing, for example a cushion or a soft toy made from the person’s tee-shirt. You don’t need to be an experienced artist or crafter, many people find it’s the process of making something that is helpful whatever the outcome, and what you make will be special and personal to you. 

Light a candle

Lighting a candle can be a very simple but powerful way of marking an anniversary, birthday or other special day. Some people like to read a poem or, if they have a faith, to say a prayer while lighting their candle. 

Create a special walk

Some people find it helpful to create their own remembrance walk. It may involve walking in a place the person who has died particularly liked. You could make their remembrance walk an annual occasion which takes place on the anniversary of their death or around the time of their birthday. Some make it a private walk, but others invite people who also knew the person to join them. 

Plant a tree or shrub in memory

Planting a hardy shrub or tree somewhere you can visit can be helpful. If you have nowhere to plant something, you may be able to get permission from a park or other public area.

Join others in remembering

Charities, places of worship and hospices sometimes hold events where you can join other bereaved families in remembering. Some bereaved families find it helpful to come together with other people who have had similar experiences. 

Child Bereavement UK holds annual Snowdrop Walks, which are a lovely opportunity for families to enjoy a walk in beautiful surroundings and plant snowdrops in memory of someone important to them. If there isn’t a Snowdrop Walk in your area, we have created a snowdrop walk remembrance pack to help you set up your own walk if you wish. 

Visit our page: How we can support you for more on our services.

You can also call our Helpline 0800 02 888 40, email [email protected], or use Live Chat on our website.