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It can be difficult for children to process concepts and emotions such as illness, death, grief, and loss, and it is very normal for them to react in a variety of different ways. In June of 2019, we wrote a blog called “3 Simple Ways to Help Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One” to help you best support young children through this process. Today, we want to expand on this by recommending some books that can help along the way.
Books are a great resource for helping children to cope with and understand their emotions in an age-appropriate way. They can also be used to help a caregiver, parent, or friend connect with the child in order to help them feel safe and secure, which is very important when they are recovering from a loss of any kind. Here are 4 books we would recommend diving into.
Where Do They Go? is a lyrical children’s picture book, written in the form of a poem that explores the emotions associated with death. The poem includes questions such as “When somebody dies, where do they go?” and “Do they wink back at me when I wish on a star?” Alvarez says she wrote the book when she began to lose close relatives and was asking herself the same question repeatedly and in different ways. There is also a Spanish-language edition of this book called ¿Donde va a parar?
The Goodbye Book is written from the perspective of a pet fish who loses his companion and moves through the process of saying goodbye. Although this book is not exclusive to death, it addresses a host of emotions and experiences that children go through when they are grieving a loss of any kind. A benefit to this book is the simplicity of the words and colors that beautifully accompany the more difficult subject of loss. It is reassuring in that it reminds its readers that not having all the answers is ok, and even when goodbyes bring sadness and unfamiliar emotions, those feelings will get easier as time goes by.
Nancy Tillman writes books for children with this central message at the heart of each one: you are loved. Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You is an exploration of that unconditional love with the purpose of giving children the confidence that there’s nowhere in the world where your love as a parent can’t reach them. While she doesn’t mention death explicitly, this book is centered around the idea that children are loved when they cannot be with a parent, and so can be considered particularly reassuring for children who have experienced the loss of one.
This book was originally written by the author to help ease her son’s separation anxiety when he was dropped off at daycare. In the book, Patrice has a mother comfort her children during a scary storm by telling them about an invisible string made out of love that connects them to one another, no matter where they go. They explore this concept through questions such as “How far does it reach?” and “Does it ever go away?” This is, therefore, a great resource to help parents, educators, therapists, or teachers explore the concepts of loneliness, loss, and grief.
All children process grief in different ways. If you would like some additional advice, please reach out to our team and let us know. We’re happy to help support you and your family in any way we can in your time of need.