When a child faces the death of a loved one, especially a parent or family member, the support system is disrupted. It is essential that families find new ways to communicate, express their feelings of grief and honestly answer questions a child may have. Some children are verbal, others hold their feelings in. One way to help address a child’s loss is through story books. The key is in helping a child realize that he/she is not alone. I will share a few favorites with you.
I Miss You: A First Look at Death, by Pat Thomas, and published by Barron’s Educational Series, 2001. This book helps children (and adults, too) deal with the loss of loved ones. The author gently explains the life cycles. “Death is a natural part of life. All living things grow, change and eventually die.” The child will view a dying tree, and a fallen bird. When the book reaches human loss, there’s a question at the bottom of the page where the author gives the child the opportunity to discuss his/her own loss by asking, “What about you? Has anyone you know died? How did they die?” Likening one’s soul to a raindrop that joins other raindrops in the ocean is beautiful. At the end of the book is a section on how to use the book, a short glossary and resources for grief support.
Saying Goodbye to Daddy, by Judith Vigna, and published by Albert Whitman & Co., 1991. This is a good book to use when there has been a sudden death. When Clara is picked up early from school by her grandfather, she doesn’t understand that something terrible has happened to her father. Clara learns about her father’s death and what happens afterwards. Grief, loneliness, anger and confusion follow. Her family helps her work through her feelings and fears. Due to family support, Clara reaches a place of peace by the end of the book.
Rain Came Down, by David Shannon, and published by Blue Sky Press, 2000. Many times things unexpected happen that we don’t like, and it can impact everything and everybody. In the story, one Saturday the rain comes down and it sets off a chain reaction that causes the entire block to honk, yell, bicker, and bark. This book can help explain how our moods can get messy when something unexpected happens. Then the rain stops and the sun shines once again. I like this book because you can use it to ask a grieving child about the unexpected events in their lives that upset them and impact their mood? What feels messy and out of control in their life? What would make it better.