When my father-in-law passed away last March, I was desperate to find ways to comfort my child. I searched Pinterest and asked friends for recommendations. I was so grateful for the outpouring of suggestions to help guide my son through his grief in losing his Big Poppa. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, and after the events of this weekend, I really wanted to share these tools. I know there are probably others, and so I will add to this post as I’m able to personally read more books on the subject. In the meantime, here are a few of my picks for children’s books to help a grieving child.
I’m writing this because grief can be about a lot of things. Sure, it can be the loss of a loved one. Or it could be caused by a scary diagnosis; political unrest; the disillusion of a marriage. Books are such a simple and beautiful way to feel connected in an oft-uncertain world. These stories are comforting to children, but also to their parents and caregivers who are sharing them.
Please note: I am not a medical professional. Please don’t use this in lieu of professional advice given by qualified mental health and wellness professionals, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help for you and your child if needed. There are so many amazing child & family therapy options available.
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Written by Cori Doerrfeld, this is a simple and beautiful book about giving a child space to share their feelings. It’s a great reminder to parents that sometimes the best thing you can do is lend a listening ear or encourage your child, by fostering those types of relationships with another trusted family member they can turn to.
We gave this book to Benjamin and read it to him the morning of his grandfather’s funeral. We also gave him a new “friend”, who he could love on and talk to — a soft, brown bunny like the one in the book, and the same brand (Jellycat) as his most prized lovey-type friend.
This is such a beautiful book that I shared it as one of my selections to read to Benjamin’s first grade class this year. “The Invisible String”, by Patrice Karst, and whimsically-illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, is a story of love. This pick is great for any child who might be feeling separation anxiety, distress, or loss. The story illustrates that we’re all connected by love, even to those we’ve lost. FYI, the actual referral to a death is just one page. I feel this is a great book for any child.
“You don’t need to see the Invisible String. People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love.”The Invisible String
I first read this book when I was 19, and it’s remained one of my favorite children’s book to date. I also read this book to Benjamin’s class. It was written and illustrated by David Saltzman — an incredible person who died of cancer just 11 days before his 23rd birthday. This book is an absolute treasure; a reminder that joy lives within YOU. (Just a note: there is smoking depicted in this book, if that’s something that bothers you.)
The Next Place, by Warren Hanson, was gifted to us. Of all the books, this is most specifically geared toward children who’ve experienced the death of a loved one. It reads so lyrical. The illustrations are beautiful and vibrant. It’s not explicitly Christian, but does talk about an afterlife, with a sense of awe and wonder.
Children’s Books to Help a Grieving Child (and Their Parents)
More Books Worth Mentioning
In my writing of this post, I came across a couple of books I wanted to share, even though I haven’t read them yet. God Gave Us Heaven looks like a great book, by the same author of another book we do own, called God Gave Us Easter. The other book I want to check out is, The Memory Box: A Book About Grief.