Making Memories with Charlie House

​“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr Suess

It is a sad and hard-hitting truth that some of the children supported by Charlie House will live short lives.

While we are here as a means to spread joy by providing life-changing activities and experiences, we also exist to support families through hard times. Part of our services include supporting families before and after bereavement. In fact, many parents come to us after the loss of a child to receive one to one support for themselves and the rest of the family. We often hear how important this service is for them as they navigate the unimaginable situations they face. We are told that having trained staff to talk to and the ability to remain connected to other families who understand their situation makes the world of difference.

At Charlie House we understand that there is nothing quite as precious as a memory, especially if it is one shared by an individual and a loved one who has passed. One of the ways in which we help the families we support before and after a bereavement is by encouraging them to make memory boxes that hold happy memories of their life together.

Memory boxes act as a safe space to keep a lifetime of shared memories, these can be stored and revisited whenever a family member wishes to feel connected to the loved one they have lost. Each family member can have a memory box for their person, or they can create one as a group with shared memories. These can be decorated however they like, often using photographs, artwork or their loved one’s favourite colour.

Speaking about supporting families with the creation of memory boxes, our Children and Family Support Manager, Leigh Ryrie said, “Making memories is very much a part of Charlie House and our belief that life is precious. A memory box made by the family, either when the child or young person is with us or has passed, is such a special item for them to keep and cherish and use for years to come. It keeps memories alive, even after a person is gone.”

Leigh added, “While this is a very private practice for families, I have been honoured to be there when they have created these personal boxes and listen to their special memories of the child or young person. It is a very powerful and emotional experience for everyone involved.”

The contents of a memory box are personal to each individual and family member involved in the creation, but suggestions we would put forward include those that cover each of the senses. For instance, photographs, video footage and voice recordings, their favourite items of clothing and jewellery, perfume or aftershave and lotions or cream that will give a distinctive smell when the box is opened and stimulate memories, or arts and crafts. Another suggestion we offer the families are cue cards with written memories, that might include words such as, ‘My favourite holiday was…’ or ‘My favourite day out was…’

Charlie House CEO, Louise Andrew, highlights the importance of memory boxes, our bereavement services, and the difference that Charlie House wants to make for families here in our region: “To be part of a family’s support network following bereavement is a huge responsibility but also a real honour. We take our role very seriously and approach each situation with great care and an absolute regard for the uniqueness of each individual and family. Memory boxes are a beautiful way of preserving memories, thoughts and feelings of a child or young person that is no longer with us. For many grief is an unpredictable journey and these boxes filled with personal items act as a tool to help individuals come back to something concrete when they feel lost and overwhelmed by their feelings.”

“The need for children and families to have something concrete and accessible to rely on and keep coming back to is really at the heart of everything we do at Charlie House. From the start of the journey when the seriousness of a child’s condition becomes evident and there are complex and sometimes heart-breaking decisions to be made. From helping make happy memories that will last forever, to providing support, tools, and advice to help families and individuals through the most difficult times, we aim to be a constant, predicable lifeline.

“Once opened, Charlie House, our specialist support facility, will add to this in so many ways. The centre will include rooms devoted to therapeutic services as well as space dedicated to end-of-life care where families will have time and space to grieve when they need it. The creation of this physical hub and the additional services it will allow us to provide will make an incredible difference to families in our local community, not least because they will no longer have to travel over 100 miles from the city to receive the support they require.”

“Travelling this distance takes families away from much needed support networks of friends and loved ones when they need them most. It’s simply not acceptable to expect that a family should travel that distance with a child with complex care needs especially if their condition is critical. These children deserve better than this, much better.”

Donating to Charlie House is the best way that you can help families living in our local community.

As little as £12 can help us to offer bereavement support, including memory boxes to families who want to capture precious moments to remember forever.

Donate now.

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