The strings of pink and blue balloons softly slipped through the fingers of each one gathered on the playground. As the last balloon was enveloped into the heavens, the grieving crowd remained. The mother, the family, the teachers, the staff, the school community, and the young classmates were left to navigate ripples of grief. Comfort settled over the crowd as the story, The Invisible String, was read from high atop a tall playground slide.
In a neighboring district, an elementary school tenderly held this memorial service to mourn the loss of two young siblings. The untimely deaths of a little boy and his sister were unexpected. The 3rd grade teacher will reach in her basket to grade papers... and find his. A kindergarten teacher will walk by a row of cubbies... and see hers. In times like this, adults find it difficult to sort out the emotions of grief. How can we as parents, teachers and caretakers prepare to help young children cope with loss?
Helping children understand death and the disappointments of loss is not easy. When adults are struggling to process major events of grief, children may feel lost, scared, and confused. Within these circumstances, children need the attention of loving caregivers who will guide them to express and process the meaning of their loss.
One effective way to help children understand normal grief reactions is to read a children’s book. Just as The Invisible String comforted the grieving crowd, other children’s books can soothe young readers. Stories and characters within the pages help open communication and explain difficult topics in ways children can understand. The colorful pictures with simple words engage young eyes. Distributors now offer a variety of children’s books covering topics of loss, dying, death and grief. Here are a few recommended books:
Emily Lost Someone She Loved by Kathleen Fucci
Emily was oh so very happy! But one day the very worst thing happened. Emily lost someone she loved. And after that nothing felt the same. But one night when Emily cries out, "Where is God?!" she learns He is much closer, and loves her so much more, than she ever realized. This book helps restore faith in God and hope for the future.
Heaven: God’s Promise for Me by Anne Graham Lotz
The light is always on because Jesus is waiting for you. Heaven is a real place. It’s where Jesus lives and waits for those he loves to come to him. It’s a place of joy and love and hope. Engaging questions and scripture references in the back of this book will help parents reinforce the message that Heaven is a place of love that we can all look forward to seeing one day.
Muddles, Puddles, and Sunshine by Diana Crossley
This activity book offers sensitive support for bereaved younger children. It suggests a helpful series of activities and exercises accompanied by the friendly characters of Bee and Bear. This book helps children make sense of their experience by reflecting on the different aspects of their grief. At the same time, the book manages to find a balance between remembering the person who has died and having fun.
Never Say Goodbye by Lea Gillespie Gant
A grandmother lovingly explains to her granddaughter that “God has made me a new home”. The granddaughter is tenderly encouraged to feel her grandmother’s hugs each time God wraps her in sunshine, and save the memory of her smile. With these things in her heart, they will never say goodbye.
The Copper Tree by Hilary Robinson
When Olivia's teacher dies, the children at her school are encouraged to think of everything that reminds them of her. Written with sensitivity and light-hearted moments, this story helps children understand that while sadness is an inevitable part of grief, death is not necessarily the end, for what is left behind can be everlasting.
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
Specifically written to address children's fear of being apart from the ones they love, The Invisible String delivers a particularly compelling message in today's uncertain times that love is the unending connection that binds us all. For parents and children everywhere looking for reassurance in the power of love, to bind, connect and comfort us through those inevitable times when life challenges us!
What is Heaven Like? by Pamela Querin
A young boy and his sister, missing their recently departed grandfather, ponder heaven. In a quest for understanding, the boy sets off to ask everyone he encounters all about it. For any child who is coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, or even those young ones who are simply curious, What Is Heaven Like?
Covenant Christian Academy desires to reach and minister to families experiencing grief. Operating fully in the belief our Loving God will “give strength to His people and bless His people with peace” (Ps. 29:11), we have purchased several children’s books as tangible means through which God may touch and heal hearts. The books listed in this blog are available in our CCA Library.