Making a Memory Collage

Lorraine Perry, LCFL Healing Arts Coordinator/Grief Care Counselor, provides a Healing Arts memory collage activity that a child, adult, or multi family members can do together to remember and honor a loved one while coping with loss.

Hello, I’m Lorraine Perry a bereavement counselor and expressive arts therapist from Lower Cape Fear LifeCare.

One of the expressive arts activities is to create a memory collage and that can be used by youth as well as adults, or two or three generations together, to tell a story about their loved one. Stories narratives are easily told through images.

The materials that we’re using are:

  • Poster board
  • Scissors- preferably child size
  • Glue stick

The other materials come from recycled magazines, or calendars, or greeting cards. So here’s an example from a calendar of a rabbit in the woods. So, if walking in the woods and seeing wildlife is part of that relationship with their loved one, this might be appropriate. And beach activities, kayaking, boating, seagulls, sailing, memories of vacations together. A lot of people ask for flowers because the person that they are memorializing may have been an avid gardener.

Before I begin putting down tiny smaller images, I’m going to make sure I’ve got the biggest ones down first and the reason for that is once a big image is down, smaller images can go around it. So, I’m going to lift the glue stick put it down, and then I’m going to look for images with straight edges, perhaps that can go right on image.

More images might be depicting pets. Pets from the past, current pets. And, also some words. This particular quote: “Under the tall tree I lie and the clouds go sailing by,” by JR Tolkien. And I thought this saying spoke to me about memories of somebody. So, you might want to add a few words.

There may be local images from local magazines such as the farmers market and you could put that on top of another. Just sort to consolidate images close to each other or even on top of each other.

You’ve got lots of space to work on with a poster board, but there may be a lot of smaller ones that you want to include. Here’s a guitar for a music memory. For seasons or holidays: pumpkins for Halloween, snow for winter, wreaths, Easter, candles.

This one is an image of somebody writing and could be the person that you’re thinking of was a writer or enjoyed reading. So, I’m going to put the writing next to the script. I think they would go nicely together. Here are tomatoes harvested.

The most important thing to remember is relate to young people is that this collage is not necessarily just about making the collage, but my relationship with the person that I want to acknowledge and show respect and love for. So, I cut out some hearts which could of course be added any place.

Amongst the other images, activities such as bird-watching that might have been something you remember. And, so, if you cut out some birds that could tell part of that story

Stickers for those that are that can’t cut out small things it’s very easy to take stickers and add them to on top of the bigger pictures and in between them.

The most important thing to remember is that this is done with love and respect. Gratitude for the relationship that you have with that person.

If you use a standard-sized poster board, cut it to a standard-size frame. Maybe recycling a frame you already have. Or, you buy a standard frame in a local craft or Walmart so that you don’t have to have a custom frame value then to frame the collage.

You can look at and decide: Do I want to actually add a portrait, photograph of the person amongst these  [images of] activities to hold it together thematically? So, you can certainly print off all these photographs that you want to save and make copies and add those copies to the collage.

This is a nice way to have the children or youth tell the story at a gathering of friends and family for visitation. It’ll be upright and the kids can use the narrative as a reflection of what they want to say helps cue them for what it is they want to express during a funeral or visitation.

I hope this is of help. I hope that you can make one with your family.

Thank you.