Trying to explain loss and bereavement to a child can be very difficult because it is hard to know whether you are doing the right thing, and often children will not give any outward sign of what they do and do not understand.
Using literature can be a good starting point to equate the loss to a form a child may better understand.
Our advisor Lindsay Dobson has used the following books during her years in practice when working with children of all ages:
Up In Heaven – Emma Chichester Clark – Anderson Press
The Day the Sea Went Out and Never Came Back – Margot Sutherland – Speechmark Publishing
Gentle Willow, A Story for Children About Dying – Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D. – Magination Press
Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine – Diana Crossley – Hawthorne Press – Produced for Winston’s Wish, The Charity for Bereaved Children
Childhood Bereavement network – do some handy ‘stepping stones cards ‘ These are little cards for children who have a parent or someone else close who is seriously ill – they can’t always ask for what they need these little post cards are a way of letting people know what you need, without having to talk about it email firstname.lastname@example.org
Water bugs and dragonflies by Doris Stickney – a beautiful and simple story that tells us how the water bugs don’t know what happens when they leave the water or why – and how once they turn into a dragon fly they can’t come back and tell the water bugs what it’s like. There is a bit of advice at the end for parents – the only but is in the advice section it does mention god – however if you’re not religious this is still a beautiful story and lovely metaphor about death.
Beginnings and Endings with lifetimes in between by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen – a lovely and beautifully illustrated book that looks at the natural way all things have lifetimes, what that means and how we all have different lengths of lifetimes . Helps children understand that dying is a natural part of living.
No matter What by Debi Gliori – a personal favourite of mine – such a touching story for any child not just those that have been bereaved, about unconditional love and how it goes on even after we have died.
Any of the from me to you books – memory books that you give to someone i.e. mum or dad as a gift – they fill it in with lots of memories and give it back to you J by Neil Coxon and available through Amazon – however – you don’t need a book to do this – you can do it with your own scrap book or cardboard box!!! But the books do provide some nice questions you might not have thought of or make lovely gifts to those in your family and it’s a wonderful idea even if nobody is ill and dying!
When Dinosaurs die by Huebner, Dawn and Matthews, Bonnie – a cartoon style book explaining death and dying
The frog that longed for the moon to shine – by Margot Sunderland – is about how life passes us by if we spend it longing and waiting for that someone who is not there – a useful story for a child who seems to be stuck in grief and not taking part in life
I carried you on eagles wings by Sue Mayfield is a touching story for teenagers about a mother who has an illness and not being able to fix those we love
Also for the older age group – there are a variety of stories out there about grief – Examples are Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter Series and the Never Ending Story.