For children, learning to cope with different every day emotions is quite the task. However, when a child experiences bereavement, it can be especially difficult to help them navigate such foreign and painful emotions. While there are several books aimed at helping children grieve the loss of a loved one, there is one in particular that I like:
When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief by Marge Heegaard
This book is written for children of all ages, but because of the reading level, I find it is best for children 5 to 6 years and older. One of the best features of this book is that it offers a simplicity that makes it comprehendible for children. It takes into consideration the concrete thinking style of most young persons and delicately explains the finality of life. This is important, as most children have difficulty with understanding such an abstract concept.
The book is formatted with black and white illustrations so that the reader can color in the pages, which I find to be more interactive and allows for creative expression and emotional release onto each page. I appreciate how the author encourages children to ask questions about death, which is a dialogue that I take up in therapy with such patients. The text is written in such a way so as to validate and help children understand the intense emotions of grief.
I also like how the text encourages children to release their intense emotions in ways that are healthy and appropriate (e.g., through physical exercise). This is especially important for children who have difficulty with verbally expressing or sharing their emotions.
For parents who are more interested in a story-telling book about grief with colorful illustrations, or for younger children, I also recommend these two books: I Miss you: A First Look at Death and Always and Forever
If you live in the New Orleans metro area and would like to set up an appointment with Dr. Lawing to discuss grief therapy for your child, please call (504) 289-5995.