This book is the story of a young child approximately 8-10 years old who has experienced the death of someone special. She and her mom talk through what happened to that person when he/she died and acknowledges the normal feelings of grief the child is experiencing. Mom gives answers and explains death in a child’s understanding reminding us that plants, animals and people die. The book acknowledges a child’s feelings of sadness, anger, fairness and guilt. The ending of the book suggests scrapbooking as a way for the child to remember the happy memories. Scrapbooking becomes a way for the Someone Special who died to never be forgotten by the child.
“Helping Children Cope with Death: A Practical Resource Guide for Someone Special Died” by the same author is a companion guide which reviews the stages of grief describing how these stages may manifest themselves in the life of a child. From shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and withdrawal, and acceptance, Prestine takes specific lines from the book and corresponds them with a stage of grief giving specific suggestions on how to help the child grieve the loss.
What did you find helpful about this book?
As a clinician, I can apply the book to a wide range of grieving situations since the “someone special” is not defined as male or female or as a specific person with a role in the child’s life such as a parent, relative, teacher, friend. I find that the honest answers to honest questions in simple terms helps in sharing the grieving experience with a child. The companion guide is very helpful in identifying the stage of grief the child’s feelings reference and in offering suggestions for how to help the child work through the stages of grief which may be experienced at the time of death.
“I miss him. I can’t believe I won’t ever see him again. Sometimes I pretend he’s still alive.” This statement conveys feelings of shock and denial following the death of a loved one. Prestine goes on to suggest using a life stages “path of life” time line, pet experiences, puppet play and planting flowers to assist in the shock and denial stage. She explains each of these suggestions in the companion guide.
What do clients find most helpful about the book?
Clients appreciate the simple explanations of death in a child’s language. They appreciate the honesty of the book and the simple answers to hard questions children ask at the time of death. Clients like the scrapbooking suggestion as a way for the child to grieve their loss. Some clients have discovered this technique on their own so they feel empowered that they can help their child more through the grieving process in a healthy way.
Clients find the book a ready tool when needed. Death is a difficult subject for most to talk about and particularly in the life of a child so clients particularly parents appreciate having a resource to help them talk with their child. The child clients I have shared the book with appear to identify with the child in the story and her feelings. Many children will smile and affect improves when they read about how scrapbooking can help them with their feelings. Many child clients have already begun the scrapbooking process when they come for counseling or at least have started drawing pictures of their someone special or collecting pictures.
“If I had been there, I wouldn’t have let him die. But Mom says I couldn’t have done anything to help keep him alive.” This statement deals with the guilt and blame a child has at the time of death. Helping a child understand that the death is not his/her fault assists in the grieving process.
“What happened when he died? His body stopped working.” The simple answer to a difficult question explains the death in a child’s way of understanding.
“He died and I know he won’t be coming back. But with my scrapbook, I’ll never forget him.” Giving the child a tangible way to express his/her grief gives the child a place to put feelings. Scrapbooking is helpful for children and adults alike.
*This column is not intended to substitute for a session with a licensed counselor. If you have a question you would like for us to answer, EMAIL us at email@example.com. We would love to answer your question.*