Last month on a particularly grumpy day for moi, I emailed with Gwen
Flowers who has often contributed amazing poetry here to KotaPress. She
mentioned something called "The Memory Box Project" and I was
immediately intrigued. She sent me the following link:
Wow! What an amazing project! All I could think upon reading about their
work was, "I wish someone had made a box for me after Kota died."
All the artists involved in this project donate the boxes, the art, the
postage for mailing the memory boxes to hospitals and birthing centers
around the country. This is an amazing service for the bereaved parents,
for the hospital staff who are always wanting more "tangible"
ways to support the bereaved. Amazing work coordinated by artist Tera
Leigh and her mother Marie Gemmil!!!
Another thing I noticed at their site was that they also have a YahooGroup
for the artists to post photos of the boxes and to ask questions of each
other about process, or to share painting patterns or poetry for including
in the boxes, etc. So I signed up right away. You can, too, if you go
And so, when I joined the YahooGroup for the Project, I wrote to ask
people if they might write a few words about their involvment with this.
Here are a couple of the replies I got:
From Gail P. Brown
We Memory Box artists are greatly appreciative of all notice the group
gets as in turn it make it easier for us to get funding help and the
interests of other artists. My Name is Gail P Brown. I have been a Memory
Box Artist since 1998 when I first started Decorative art and surfing
on the net. I found the Memory Box artists on Tolnet(now defunct) and
have organized the "Special Memories Artist" with the help
of Val Mann at "Yesterday's Child " a ceramic studio. As of
last week I started wearing another hat, that of Vice Chair of the "Forest
City Decorative Artists" here in London and have started to organize
another Memory Box group. My idea is to have the two groups network.
Also through the help of Audrey deJong "Shades of Country"
who is the organizer of Southwestern Ontario Paint-In (S.W.O.P.I.) we
have a table at the annual convention set up for artists to come in
and paint boxes for the project.
From Gwen Flowers
Grief is a difficult journey, with many hidden pitfalls along the way;
but sometimes there are hidden blessings, too. Finding new strength,
meeting new friends, sharing in a deeper and more intimate way than
I ever thought possible, with people I have never met face to face.
One of the greatest blessings to me has become one of the most healing
things that I do. A balm to my shattered soul. Both a creative outlet
and an opportunity to reach out and touch another grieving mom, the
Memory Box Artist program has given me a fresh new path through grief.
Every box that I paint is a step forward in healing. Every box that
I mail out is a message to another grieving family that their baby is
remembered; that life, no matter how short, is precious; that I care,
and so do others. Painting these boxes allows me to reach into myself,
search the hidden corners of my own grief, and hold another's hand along
You can see from these couple replies that the artists involved have
a mission and purpose. Their work is beautiful. And the support they provide
is much appreciated by bereaved parents everywhere.
Also, I'm thrilled to report that my own mom got involved in the Project,
too! She started making boxes right away, and it was only a week after
discovering this Memory Box idea that I got a package in the mail. It
was from my mom, the memory box artist. The package contained a beautiful
purple painted box decorated with butterflies and ladybugs and beautiful
sparkles. So you see, I did get a box for my Kota memories afterall! It
is signed by the artist "Kota's Nanna" --
Kara lives on Vashon Island which is a much more
awesome place than she ever imagined it would be. She is a poet, bookmaker,
wife, teacher, mother to a stillborn son, facilitator, receptionist, founder,
struggling p.t.barnum, turtle faithful, editor, artist, and a million
other things that will prevent you from putting her in any one particular
label box! Kara teaches through local art centers, artists in the schools
programs, KotaPress and independently. To find out more about her, see:
And her class Expanding Poetry is now available
in an online format from CourseBridge.com where you can register today