Grief is a complex journey, one that can be particularly bewildering for young children. When a family member passes away, the feelings of shock and sorrow can be overwhelming, and explaining death to young people requires sensitivity and care. It’s crucial to acknowledge that there’s no wrong way to feel during the grieving process. For children, books can be invaluable resources, offering solace and understanding. In this article, we’ll explore five children’s books that provide bereavement support and discuss the role of memorial bears as a comforting keepsake, offering a gentle alternative to memorial jewellery.
“The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst
“The Invisible String” is a picture book that tackles the concept of separation and loss in a way that is accessible to young children. The story explains death through the metaphor of an invisible string of love that connects us to every person who died but whom we still hold dear. This book is a powerful resource for children experiencing grief, as it offers a tangible understanding of the enduring connection to a lost family member. The narrative reassures children that love transcends physical presence, helping them navigate their feelings of loss with a sense of hope. Shop this book here.
“Michael Rosen’s Sad Book” by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Penned by Michael Rosen and brought to life with illustrations by Quentin Blake, “Michael Rosen’s Sad Book” is a poignant exploration of sorrow. Rosen shares his own experience with grief after the loss of his son, which resonates with the concept that people experience grief in many ways. This book validates the emotions children feel, acknowledging that it’s okay to feel angry or not to understand why someone has gone. It’s a profound resource for young people grappling with complicated grief, as it doesn’t shy away from the pain but also offers a message of enduring love and memory. Shop here.
“When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death” by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
This informative picture book uses the universally loved theme of dinosaurs to explain death to young children. “When Dinosaurs Die” does not just focus on the stages of grief but also provides a comprehensive look at the various traditions and beliefs surrounding death. It’s an excellent resource for children who have lots of questions and for parents or guardians looking for ways to explain death without inducing additional fear or confusion. Shop here.
“I Miss You: A First Look at Death” by Pat Thomas
“I Miss You” is a gentle introduction to the concept of loss for young children. This picture book helps explain what it means when someone dies and goes through the emotional and physical implications of grieving. It reassures children that it’s normal to experience a range of emotions and that each person’s grieving process is unique. The book also includes a section of bereavement support advice for caregivers, making it a comprehensive resource for the whole family. You can shop this book here.
“The Heart and the Bottle” by Oliver Jeffers
In “The Heart and the Bottle,” Oliver Jeffers addresses the subject of loss with his signature whimsical illustrations and heartfelt storytelling. The book depicts a young girl who, after losing a beloved family member, locks away her heart to avoid feeling grief. This story is a metaphor for the emotional closing-off that often accompanies loss and the importance of remaining open to feelings, even painful ones. It’s a touching narrative encouraging children to embrace their emotions as part of the healing process. You can shop this book here.
The Role of Memorial Bears in Grieving for Children
While books are a fantastic resource for helping children experience grief, memorial gifts such as memorial bears serve as a comforting, physical reminder of the person lost. Unlike memorial jewellery, which may be more suited to adults, a memorial bear can be hugged, held, and cherished by children. It’s a soft, approachable object that can be incorporated into daily life, providing comfort during moments of sadness or remembrance.
In conclusion, these five books offer a blend of empathy, honesty, and understanding, guiding children through the complex emotions that accompany the loss of a loved one. Coupled with the comforting presence of a memorial bear, they can help children feel less alone in their grief and more equipped to process their emotions. Remember, grief is a personal journey, and these resources are here to support young people as they find their way through it.