Grief is hard. Grieving within a family can be extremely hard.
So many times, I hear something similar to this from kids within a grieving family, “I was struggling but it looked like mom was having a good day and I didn’t want to upset her, so I didn’t talk to her about it.” The opposite can be true as well, mom might hold back her tears so that she doesn’t upset her child. The concept of BRB (be right back) is used in this activity. This activity helps family members talk about their grief in a safe and structured way. Instead of a family members stuffing down the memory or emotion that they might be feeling, they are encouraged to write down their grief response. The family members then agree to a scheduled time to review what has been written down and spend time discussing their grief.
- Container to hold the strips (shoe box, jar, etc.) I used a mason jar.
- Items to decorate the container and glue to attach. I used twine and a glue gun.
- Strips of paper.
Step 1: Decorate the BRB Container
Have the clients decorate the BRB container. You can use creative and fun items to decorate. The whole family can join in this activity, or you may have the child decorate the container for the family. I hot glued the twine around the mason jar.
Step 2: Create BRB Strips
Have the client cut strips of paper so that they can write down the emotions they are feeling regarding grief or specific memories they had that week about the loved one who died.
Step 3: Send home the BRB Activity with the family and provide instructions
Discuss with the family the purpose of the BRB activity. The family members are encouraged to write down what they are feeling throughout the week or memories about their loved one. They might also write down struggles they are having this week because of the loss.
Ask the family to agree upon designated time and place to read through the BRB strips (for example, every Sunday at 5:00 p.m.). It is important to encourage the family to set ground rules for this time (for example, creating a safe environment where things can be shared, respecting others, allowing for intense emotions without minimizing or attempting to fix, etc.)
I have my clients set a timer. It can feel less overwhelming to go through the BRB activity if I know it will only be for 15-30 minutes. Any strips of paper that were not read will just remain in the jar until the next time. The family can decide how they read the strips of paper (one family member is the designated reader or they take turns reading them out loud.) After each one is read, allowing for a time of discussion is important. Has anyone else felt this way? What does this memory mean to everyone else? Is there anything else you would like to say about what you wrote? Is there any way that I can help you further?
After completing the BRB activity, it can be helpful for families to schedule a connecting or fun activity (for example, playing a game together or watching a movie together, going for walk, etc.) This activity is helpful because it allows a family to be intentional about working through the grieving process together in a safe environment.