If your are finding it difficult to explain grief, death, bereavement to young children, try it with a storybook
Losing someone close to you is hard. Children can have a very confusing, and difficult time getting to terms with the passing of someone they normally have contact with.
Whether a pet, relative or a friend – death is a hard subject to deal with for young or old alike. Older people have a whole different understanding of death and grief. Little ones need to have gentle support in finding out what is going on.
“The more the subject of death is approached at a young age, the easier it will be to accept and discuss later on.” Thank goodness for children’s books on the subjects of loss, grief, bereavement. They are not sad or depressing – they are full of life and tributes!
A child struggles and is often confused. Depending on their ages, and their parents points of view and belief, many children cannot grasp what is going on – where has their relative/friend/pet suddenly gone?
It is comforting to see that there are many caring authors out there. When words are hard to find, you can turn to the pages of these books. We have a link below to authors who provide great books on the subject of explaining and supporting children who have suffered a loss. They open up a world of suppressed conversation and they release deep emotions. These books have been known to help adults too.
There are children’s books on bereavement that aid the loss either of a parent, grandparent/other family member, friend, or a pet. They are written and illustrated in such a caring manner to ease the pain and bring a little understanding and relief.
A sense of knowing that it is okay to be sad is encouraged. Loved ones pass away, it is part of the cycle of life. There are children’s books on death that explain it by using nature as an example. Such as following the journey of a falling leaf. The story of an oak tree. Lifecycles of other animals.
It’s important that children accept that death is just a natural part of life, it is nothing to be feared – just accepted and understood – it is not the end. It will be sad and painful, but people and animals can live on through memories. Many happy times follow. Let time be the great healer. It’s important to still talk about people and pets that have passed – remember the good times and feel the warmth of having known that person or pet.
There are also healing activity books on the market, and special guide books to help with understanding death.
Choose your book carefully. Take into account who the book is aimed at – for a child of a certain age. A child who has suffered the loss of a parent, friend, pet. Then think about which type of story would be best for that child – one about the loss of a direct person, or maybe a gentler book that explains death by using a tale about the cycle of life with nature as the example.
Many of the storybooks about death are not too invasive in a deep religious sense. They seem to respect that not every family is deeply religious. Families have different beliefs, or no beliefs, and it’s not nice for a book to force religion onto children. These books about grief must focus on how a child feels, express love, memories and comfort. They should not talk excessively about heaven, angels, etc. A book about bereavement for children should provide simple and calming explanations that are realistic.
Some books about grief concentrate on the cycle of life using nature as a beautiful natural example, so the mention of an afterlife in heaven with angels is not needed. A child can still get the concept of death being a natural cycle full of new life.
It’s very important for children to focus on their feelings and emotions in their struggle to understand what is going on during such a sad and confusing time. It is your own decision if you choose to tell your child about heaven and angels afterwards.