Find solace in healing words.
This tender subject is too often avoided -- that is, until it is unavoidable. When children have questions about this heavy subject, let's do our best to help them face grief, loss, and death with empathy and love. Here are a few beautiful books to help your family begin a conversation about death, grief, and the cycles of life.
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The Next Place by Warren Hanson
This simple non-denominational poem beautiful expresses the release, relief, and freedom death might bring. My children have returned to this book many times over the years. It certainly is more abstract and artful than instructional, but it has brought us peace many times.
Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children by Doris Stickney
Stickney adapted a graceful fable about a water bug that changed into a dragonfly in order to explain death to a five-year-old. This book is more traditionally religious than The Next Place.My family was most interested in the metaphor of the dragonfly larva, who live below the surface of the water, and the adult dragonflies, to illustrate the notion of someone going beyond our sight, to a marvelous place.
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: a story of Life for all Ages by Leo Buscaglia
This classic story is perfect, both simple and comforting. A little leaf named Freddie and his companion leaves change with the passing seasons, finally falling to the ground with winter's snow. As an avid gardener, I use nature often to teach kids about the circle of life and death. This book makes that analogy come alive.
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryon Mellonie
"All around us, everywhere, beginnings and endings are going on all the time. With living in between." This is a book to fall in love with, a book to read even when death is not a major topic around the house.
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst
This book is on the secular end of the spectrum. The writing is beautiful, the story is simple, and my children found it extremely comforting. They've been preparing their lists of good things about their own cat for our own kitty memorial service.
Please share your recommendations. I realize the topic of death and grief is deeply entwined with personal spiritual beliefs, so feel free to share whatever speaks to you and your family. There are likely many others just like you who will be grateful for an additional resource.
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