When there is a death of a loved one in a family with children, adults can be at a loss as to how to help the child. Sometimes, a child is devastated by the death of a pet and the parent doesn't always feel the same loss. This can lead to the child feeling lost and misunderstood. Grief is grief no matter who the special someone is and a workbook written by Marge Heegaard titled When Someone Very Special Dies is a great tool to assist the child in dealing with this painful emotion.
The book is aimed at the 6-12 year old who is dealing with loss. It has page after page of places for the child to draw or write their feelings from the prompts on each page. The younger child may need guidance with the written word on each page, but should be encouraged to draw and color independently. Older children can read and understand the text to work on the journal type workbook alone.
The book has written tips for parents. It contains honest explanations and uses common terms like funeral, death, casket, soul, and cremation. It is culturally diverse and leaves many open opportunities for parents or other adults to discuss family beliefs. The book is designed to be worked on over a period of time, not just one sitting. This allows the child time to digest and think about the loss being felt. Grief itself doesn't go away quickly, and the book addresses the feelings of anger and fear that the child may feel weeks after the funeral.
What I love about this book is the positive effect is has in the last few pages as the child is working through his grief. It has the child list good memories and positive influences from the person. Then the child can take these ideas and use them to develop his/her own character. It has the child make another list of people they trust and can talk to about their feelings. It doesn't leave the child hanging or give a magic number of days to stop feeling the pain. It shows the child that they can still have fun and be happy even while experiencing such a loss.
This author has a list of books with similar format for children experiencing divorce, drug and alcohol abuse by family members, and dealing with the remarriage of a parent. Marge Heegaard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Registered Art Therapist and Certified Grief Counselor in Minneapolis, MN. These materials are available through Woodland Press at the following address and phone number.
99 Woodland Circle
Minneapolis, MN. 55424
You can also purchase these at your favorite book store or have your librarian order them for your review.
Remember, take the time to deal with the grief yourself , so you can help your child in a healthy way. Be honest with your child and reassuring, always in love. Seek the help of other family members if you are feeling overwhelmed. And seek the assistance of grief counselors or clergy if there are questions your child has that you cannot answer. Honesty really is best.
Blessings and joy!