Healing Arts
Projects > Memory Box Project

By Kara L.C. Jones
KotaPress Editor

On one particularly grumpy, grief 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 to:

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 the journey.

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" --

Thanks, Memoo-Nanna!!

About the Author

Kara has been using poetry and other expressive arts tools on the grief journey since the death of her son in 1999. Her poetic and non-fiction works have been included in publications such as New Works Review, PoetsWest, Real Henna, Shared Heart Foundation's "Meant To Be", LightHearts Publication's "Soul Trek", MISSing Angels Newsletter, American Tanka, Mother Tongue Ink's We'Moon, Honored Babies, Cup of Comfort series, and more. She is a Carnegie Mellon graduate who co-founded KotaPress with her husband Hawk Jones. She is currently in an apprenticeship working toward Master level of Reiki. And she founded where she is exploring the ancient art of henna and its uses for ritual and healing.

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