Grief Support for Kids

Title: When Someone Very Special Dies

Author: Marge Heegaard

Topic: death of a loved one

Ages: 3 1/2 years to 10 years.  Could be used by an older child if done as a family. 

Summary: This book is written by Marge but is illustrated by the reader.  Spaces are left to draw a personal representation about the topic read.  It goes through the meaning of death in a real way but has the reader/illustrator draw what death means to them.  It discusses why the person died and how they died in a concrete way. 

My opinion:  This is the most beautiful and helpful book I ever received.   After Henry died, my two daughters (aged 8 and 11) did this book together as a family, completing 1-2 pages per night.  We focused on each of the pages and talked about them in depth, as directed by my kid’s questions.  I would identify this book as the most important book we looked at as a family, which helped us to begin healing.  Each person needs to have their own personal copy, so that they can make it their own.

My child’s reaction:  After we were finished the book, both girls asked what book we were going to do next.  They really enjoyed the activities and wished we had another one to do as a family. 

Designation: a gift to a family following the death of a loved one.  Ensure there are enough copies for each participating family member.

Title:  My Love Will Follow You There

Author: Carla Garrett

Topic: to be read by a child as they die

Ages: 0-14 years

Summary: This story walks a child through the death process.  It is read in a parent or caregiver’s voice as instructions for the final stage in death.

My opinion: It is a lovely book, however I do not know if I would have been strong enough to read this to Henry before he passed.  We received this book a few months after Henry’s death.  It discusses the child becoming an angel and going to Heaven towards the end of the book. 

My child’s reaction:  After reading it myself, I decided not to read it to the girls.  It is not geared to those who continue to live on.

Designation: A family whose child has a terminal diagnosis.

Title: Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

Author: Michael Rosen

Topic: Sadness after someone has died

Ages: all

Summary: Michael writes about feeling sad following the death of his son and mother.  He talks about what it is like to go on living sad and what people can do about it.  It is written in easy language, so it is suitable for a child.

My opinion:  I love this book.  I bought it for myself shortly after Henry died.  It doesn’t get old because the feelings of sadness remain after a loved one is gone.  It writes these feelings in easy to read and understand words, which make these strong feelings quite understandable.

My child’s reaction:  My youngest really enjoyed it.  We don’t read it as often as we could, but that is probably because I put in on my adult sad-shelf. 

Designation: A book for anyone; adult and child alike.  This is a good to be read by an ECE or teacher.  It could be a gift for a family who have children.

Title: The Invisible String

Author: Patrice Karst

Topic: fear from being apart

Ages: 3 to 8

Summary: This book is about two young children who are afraid of being away from the close proximity of their mother.  It talks about an invisible love string that connects people to their loved ones wherever they may be.  At one point in the book, a child asks if the string is still attached to loved ones in Heaven.

My opinion:  This is a lovely book.  It is especially good for children who have separation anxiety.  It is an easy read that is applicable to losing a loved one to death, but also every day separation situations.

My child’s reaction:  My youngest daughter loved it.  It is a book we read often.

Designation: A family of little children who have a hard time being apart.  This is also a good book for an ECE or teacher to have. 

Title: Tear Soup

Author: Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen

Topic: the grief process

Ages: 15+

Summary: Tear Soup is all about the grieving process and what it looks like.  The main character makes no specific reference to what or who she is grieving, only that she knows how to do it but this time it is worse than before.  The entire book is a metaphor for grieving, and is written in a more complex way because of this.

My opinion:  This book is more for adults because you have to have some life experience to understand what the author is trying to say.  Tear Soup was recommended to me while I was at the Ronald McDonald House by a fellow griever who said this was the one book I must have.  It is a good book, but is not my top favourite one.

My child’s reaction:  I did not read it to either of them as it seemed to be too mature for their age group.

Designation: A nice gift for a mature person.  It is also a good introduction into a major life loss.

Title: The Next Place

Author: Warren Hanson

Topic: What it is like after death

Ages: all

Summary: Written in first person, The Next Place is simply written with vivid detail about a what a soul does after leaving its body.  It is completely non-denominational and does not mention an afterlife place.

My opinion: This book brings me to tears every time I read it.  It is written very beautifully.  I think it describes the spirit following death in a way I have always believed it would be like.  The illustrations are also so calming with calming colours. 

My child’s reaction: Unfortunately, because I cry every time I read it, my kids seem to comfort me which does not give me a true reaction from them. 

Designation: A gift for a family who has lost a loved one of any age.  I would talk to a parent before lending it to a child though. 

Title: Badger’s Parting Gifts

Author: Susan Varley

Topic: when an old person dies

Ages: 3 to 8

Summary: An old badger realizes that his time on earth is dwindling and he gets ready to die.  His friends are left behind.  Together, the friends remember fond times each of them had with Badger. 

My opinion: A soft way to tell a child about death.  It gives a reason why the old person dies, and how it feels for them as they go.  It talks about his friends who are still around and what they can do to remember him. 

My child’s reaction:  When I purchased this book, we had already read lots of books about death.  She was tired of reading sad stories and told me so herself.

Designation: A great book to read in a class for younger kids.  This is a good tool for ECEs and teachers alike.  It is also good as a gift for families who have sick, older relatives in order to prepare them for what may happen next. 

Title: Ben’s Flying Flowers

Author: Inger Maier

Topic: a sick sibling who dies

Ages: 3 to 10

Summary: an older sibling loses a brother in a slow way.  His condition is described as chronic and that the family know what to do when the brother is starting to feel ill in his daily life. 

My opinion: This is a lovely book to describe a sick sibling.  It is gentle in the way it describes death and illness and the main character’s parents react in a way I wish I knew to act.  This book is definitely a book to have on the shelf when experiencing a sick loved one.

My child’s reaction: My youngest child did not want to read any more sad books, and said so to me.  She seemed to like it a bit better than the badger one, but I think it is just because this book was more relatable. 

Designation: This book is a good one for a family to read.  I am sure it would help a sibling of a sick child to understand what will eventually happen to their terminally ill brother or sister. 

Title: Danny and the Blue Cloud

Author: James M. Foley

Topic: Childhood depression/sadness

Ages: 3-10

Summary:  Danny is a child who was ‘born’ with a cloud over his head.  Most of his life was spent inside and sad.  One day he is invited to play by a friend who tries to help him.  Danny begins to live life again as a child doing fun kid things.

My opinion:  This book was a great addition to our library.  My youngest child had a long period of time when she was feeling “lazy” and did not want to do much.  She refused plans with friends, wanted to stay on the couch all day and watch tv.  She even lost her appetite for her favorite foods.  This book lifted her spirits and taught her what to do to feel happier again.  This book is also great for a classroom where a child in the class might be like the child in the book, and need some extra support from class friends. 

My child’s reaction: She liked the book a lot.  It helped her when she was feeling sad for an extended period of time.

Designation: a great resource for an ECE room or teacher, a nice gift for a family who might need extra support for their child.