Twigtale is so sorry for your loss. We hope this book helps support your family as you explain death to a child.
The purpose of this book is to help a child understand and deal with death of a loved one. Our culture is generally not comfortable talking about death or the grieving process, and is inclined to shield children from it as well. Yet talking with children about the reality of the life cycle, using developmentally appropriate and concrete language, is a valuable opportunity to help them embrace death without fear. Subsequently, children learn how to deal with future losses in a healthy manner.
The story begins with what has happened to the loved one, explaining the problem with her/his body. Death is introduced using specific and factual language, as this facilitates understanding in the concrete-thinking child. The story then focuses on what the child enjoyed about the loved one, a memory that will remain intact for the child even after the loss. It gives the child relief to know that he has control of keeping his memories, providing comfort in the midst of an experience where there is no control. The concept of the loved one’s “spirit” is introduced (if comfortable to the parent) as this allows the child to remember the loved ones’ inner being, which is always accessible in the child’s mind. In the absence of the physical body of the loved one, the “spirit” concept is very comforting and more concrete than the concept of “heaven”. Although some parents may wish to use the concept of “heaven” at some point, the concept of holding onto memories can feel more concrete in the early years of childhood. Ultimately, the book has flexible text to support the religious beliefs of the family.
The story also reassures that the child and parents are healthy, so as to maintain the child’s need for safety and reassurance. The story normalizes the feelings of sadness, anger, confusion and fear that naturally emerge with loss, and encourages expression. It introduces the concept of supporting one another as part of the grieving process. Finally, the story encourages rituals the child can engage in that promotes healing in the grieving process. Being active in the grieving process through expression, support, memory retrieval, and ritual facilitates a healthy approach to healing from loss.