Books Help Military Children Cope with Grief

The Hero in My Pocket, is written by Marlene Lee, who has her MA in bereavement studies.  The book  is published by Early Light Press, and is excellent for children 6-12 years of age.   The artwork in the book was done by children for children, which makes this book very special.

For Greg, 10, and Grace, 7, their father is their special hero who serves in the military.   They are proud of him.   When their dad is killed in combat, they become acutely aware that every comment about their dad has changed from the first tense to the past tense.  They ask their mom to tell them what happened to “just make sure it was true.”   In working through their grief, they find a special way to honor and remember their “Special Hero.”   This book is more than about reading.  It also is about drawing, writing, sharing and remembering on special “Hero Pages.”   A very important tool for parents and professionals helping children cope with grief.  Although written for military children, this book is a good grief book for any child suffering the loss of a loved one.

 A Kids Journey of Grief, TAPS Edition, is available to TAPS children and youth who have lost a loved one in the armed forces.  Parents may request a copy by contacting the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors,  (TAPS), and tell them the branch of service where their loved one served.  TAPS also sponsors annual Good Grief Camps for children on Memorial Day Weekend in Washington D.C., May 27-30.  And, they hold regional Good Grief Camps across the country during the year.


Help Me Say Goodbye, by Janis L. Silverman, published by Fairview Press, for kids 4 to 8 years of age who have experienced grief.  It is a well-crafted summary of the grief process, exploring all aspects of grief, and ways to cope.    The author  has created this book as an art therapy book to help a child express what they may not be able to communicate, but can do through drawing.  There are few sentences on each page, but each one supports a very strong feeling or message that the child is to respond to.  For example,  death is not something you can control, it is not your fault that your special person died —  draw about some of the things you can’t control.   When a loved one dies, birthdays and holidays can be hard –you may want to plant a tree or do something in memory of your loved one.   Do you have a good box to keep your memories like pictures and objects in? — write about what you want to put in your box.    Keep something that belonged to your loved one so you can touch and look at it — think about why these things are important to you.  This book is filled with great ideas and is certainly a wonderful keepsake for any child working through loss.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

6 thoughts on “Books Help Military Children Cope with Grief

  1. What a beautiful delicate post, Pat. I love the idea of “Hero Pages” to help them write or draw what’s on their minds, as often children will bottle things up. “Help me Say Goodbye” sounds like a really good book. What a wonderful way to help a child work through those special times of year, preserving memories and using visual technics, in helping a child come to terms and understand.


    • Wanted to round out my week by reviewing some books about grief. I really like the ones I selected or younger children. “Help Me Say Goodbye” was an excellent book I found in the library. Had to order “Hero in my Pocket.” I agree, when kids can’t talk, artwork is such a wonderful tool. Couldn’t believe I found a grief books for mitary kids. But, I did a lot of searching. Glad you enjoyed the books.


  2. Some more wonderful resources, Pat, and as you point out, these books are relevant far beyond just the military sphere, for all children dealing with loss of close family.

    I found it particularly interesting that Lee and Silverman promote creative tools for processing through their stories -using ideas which will provoke writing, drawing, practical steps as a means for children to start to express in any form appropriate, some of their grief.

    I am sure there is room for more books on the market for bereaved military children.


    • Yes, these books are relevant for any child dealing with grief and great resources for parents, teachers, and therapists. Silverman was especially good about asking questions that allowed them creative outlets for their grief. I just enjoyed all of the books. Couldn’t review the TAPS book, because they give it to members. But, I could use it in context of what they have available. I have the book. I was surprised at the number of books I found for children, because at first, I was only finding books for parents.


  3. Thank you for this post, Pat. I’m grateful that people are providing such books for children, who have less experience in coping with death and grief than we have as adults.

    I was also interested in this post as I have been encouraged to write a book to help children process grief, so it’s good to know that such books are already out there, and to know what approaches are already being used.


    • I thought you might appreciate these books. I was shocked to find a “Hero in My Pocket,” written especially for military kids. “Help Me Say Good-bye” was also excellent. Wish I could have reviewed the TAPS book, but could only mention it in context with the organization. It was good too. At first I had difficulty finding books — all were written for the parents. I wanted picture books and I found a number of very good ones out there. But, there is always room for one more. I’d research to make sure your idea is unique. I have one last post I’ll release on Tuesday, on books for children who have deployed families. One of my favorites was written for children who experience long separations or lose a parent.


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