Reminder box A Moment in Time
By Denise Turner
Whatever the aftermath of the lifting of restrictions, there is no doubt that July 19th marked a significant moment in the pandemic in England. However, while the “Thank You Day” for NHS staff and “Clap for Heroes” (formerly “Clap for Our Carers”) have provided moments of collective gratitude and Covid deaths from events like Stars in Memory and Marie Curie’s National Reconsideration Day, it has been dwindling careful to capture memories of the pandemic for posterity.
Memory work has proven to be very helpful in grief processes (Turner, 2014; Denis and Makiwane, 2003), and memory boxes are also widely used in dementia work. In children, the use of memory boxes can be an important means of talking about grief and loss (Denis and Makiwane, 2003; Thomson and Holland, 2005), while in care and adoption the use of life story books is now well established (Rose, 2017).
To capture memories of that momentous moment, the National Care Forum (NCF) and the National Activity Providers Association (NAPA) have teamed up with my support to create # Momentintime21. This national project aims to capture stories from the social care and social work sectors as well as the wider community by creating “time capsules” that will be sealed and then jointly opened on July 19, 2022.
Until the end of September, the NAPA and NCF websites will provide you with resources and ideas for creating and filling a “Moment in Time 21” reminder box, along with illustrations and “seals” for the boxes.
The boxes that were already filled and sealed included paper mache self-portraits of nursing home staff, memories of Euro 2020, and poems and letters from nursing home residents, the contents of which were unknown until they were “unpacked” in July 2022.
Hold on to memories
Throughout the pandemic, the focus has been on remembering the much-needed recognition of the death toll and disruption to people’s lives. However, the feedback from those who have made ‘Moment in Time’ boxes has shown the importance of capturing memories.
One activity coordinator commented, “In 12 months, people will have forgotten their feelings.”
In a nursing home, residents had previously planted a memorial garden with daffodils and forget-me-nots, which would bloom each year at the time of the first lockdown, and they decided to cover their “Moment in Time” box with pictures of the flowers. Although some of the memories were challenging, there was also a lot of laughter as people remembered the deceased.
One participant shared, “We laughed at the days when people bought toilet paper like it was out of style.”
Mixture of laughter and sadness
Other participants in nursing homes found that making the boxes provided an opportunity to pause and seek previously unsolicited feedback from residents, carers, and visitors. For others, one box wasn’t enough and they had to make two for anything they wanted to remember. There has been a bittersweet mix of laughter and sadness for everyone who has participated so far, but the focus throughout has been on sharing and finding spaces to communicate previously untold stories.
This project has been kindly supported by the British Association of Social Workers and we encourage you to participate, share photos etc. of your Moment in Time boxes on Twitter using the hashtag # Momentintime21. For advice, call the NAPA Helpline on toll free 0800 1585503 or email [email protected]
We hope that you will also open these boxes with us on July 19, 2022. After that, the boxes can be preserved as important archival and educational resources for future generations when they learn about this pandemic.
Denise Turner is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work whose research interests include loss, grief, and death.