When Shaela Martin was five years old, her father passed away. Now in her 30s, Shaela yearns to know more about the man that was her world as a child.

It got her thinking about how loss, especially as a child, can leave a gap in a person’s life. She created a hardcover keepsake journal Cherish – A Book About Us to guide people through their stories, to share with their children. “I was just too young when my dad died so I don’t really have any memories of him. I know from talking to others that he was a good man and he was fun-loving. I have photos of him, but I’ve often wished I could listen to a song because I know he loved it or catch a whiff of his favourite food and be reminded of him,” she said. “I want to know what he loved about me, what his hopes and dreams were for me. I know very little about him, and it leaves a hole in my heart.”

“As a mum to young children, I realised how young I was when my dad died. If I was to die now, my children would not remember the little things, or the wonderful times we had together. Cherish is all about cherishing those memories and making real connections with them to share,” Shaela said. Josh Bett bought the book to complete with his mum, who was terminally ill. Sadly, she passed away six months ago. “Nothing could be more valuable than the Cherish book my mother left to us. She was almost completely chair bound for her 12 months, the Cherish book was a great way to occupy her time, reflect on her life and be given the opportunity to communicate with her grandchildren as they grow up,” he said.

Shaela said talking about death is something so many of us avoid. “It is uncomfortable and makes us have to face truths we would rather not. No one wants to think about their parent or loved one not being there. Cherish lets us stay connected with the people we love. It is healing to be able to go to the book when you feel sad or miss them and be reminded of good times. I want to be a voice for young children who lose a parent too soon. I want them to be able to feel connected to their parent, so they never feel the way I have.”

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