Recently I was one of the facilitators for a multi-week closed grief group offered at Unity Grief and Education Center. It was Memories Week, the week we encourage group members to bring something to share of their loved one, something that belonged to their loved one, or something that reminds them of their loved one or a story/memory of their loved one. Group members often bring pictures, clothing, an item made from a loved one’s clothing or something their loved one made. During this particular group one of the members brought an owl decoration, the story behind it, and a lesson.

The Story and the Lesson

This group member noted she had been out shopping with her mom. They weren’t shopping for anything in particular and while going through the store she picked up the owl decoration and admired it, noting how cute it was. She set it down with no plans to buy it. As they were finishing up at the store her mother asked her where the owl was, and she said she had put it back on the shelf. She acknowledged she didn’t need it, and it had no real purpose. Her mother, however, encouraged her to get it “because it makes you happy.” She listened to her mom and purchased the owl decoration. She took it to work and put in a place where she saw it often. It reminded her not only of the outing with her mom, but also of the importance of doing things “because it makes you happy.” When she retired the owl was packed into a box and stayed in that box.

When she was deciding what she would like to share during Memories Week she eventually thought of the owl. She dug out the owl with the plan to bring it to group. She didn’t realize that doing this would bring back the memory of purchasing the owl and the reason why she did it. She felt happiness because this trigged additional happy memories and thoughts of her mom. In the simple yet powerful action of seeing the owl and acknowledging her feelings, the group member realized two things:

  1. Memories can bring joy and happiness even when you are grieving. Memories serve as a reminder that the person who has died lived an entire lifetime! Their legacy expands beyond the end of their life.
  2. Sometimes you should do things just because it makes you happy.

The Takeaway

Often we focus on what we need. We buy or do things because of someone else’s needs or wants. We try to make others happy. We might even feel guilty if we have periods of happiness when we are grieving. Instead of ignoring a subtle urge, perhaps we could learn from this group member. There is joy to be found in doing something or buying something that has no practical purpose other than it makes you happy. This is one way to create some wonderful memories. What is something you have done or bought just because it makes you happy?


Memories serve as a reminder that the person who has died lived an entire lifetime!

Photo by Hoàng Chương from Pexels

This blog post was shared by Melissa P., Grief Counselor at Unity Hospice.

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