Although we may wish to save our children from pain and peril, there are limits to what we can do.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard we may try to avoid it, our children will learn about Death. But luckily for parents who are feeling lost and without a guide, kid’s picture books are an absolutely brilliant and rich source of guidance. In a series of @afriendlyaffair Instagram posts, I considered how to talk “grief, loss, and mourning” to children using these beautiful little guideposts.
This post is a roundup of that expert insta-advice.
Hopefully you will find something to help you feel comfortable talking and bearing witness to the grief of a child. Because major loss is a life-long, mutable process, the books and wisdom are divided according to developmental stage. So after the jump, toward the bottom of the post, you should find a list of each book reviewed, along with the developmental stage for which that book is appropriate. When you click on the link, you can expect a review of the book, a brief discussion of the developmental stage (pre-school, elementary, etc) for which the book is appropriate, and tips for using the book to explore and engage the unique grief of a child that age. I will be adding them to this post as they become available.
There are only a few things I can say that could be considered universal. So much of our response depends on age, experiences, our beliefs, & the circumstances. Finding a dead animal at 2yo is different from losing a grandparent at 12yo, which is different from losing a parent at 8. I think it might help though, if we try to articulate a shared foundation.
So lets all agree on a few things:
- Death is not a four letter word. It is a reality
- What hurts us cannot always be kissed and made better
- Grief is a skill (not a stage) that needs to be taught with openness, curiosity, and patience.
- All children learn about death, some earlier, some later, some easier, some with great pain.
- The best place for children to get their questions answered about death is in the home, in the context of a loving relationship.
books and developmental stage:
Pre-School (2-4 yrs)
Book: The Dead Bird