This is Part I of a series on childhood grief. Part II, on talking to children about death and dying, may be found here.
This Thursday, November 21st is Children’s Grief Awareness Day. Childhood grief can run deep, but because children can move from tears to laughs and smiles in a matter of moments, it’s easy for adults to believe that they’re too small to understand or assume that they’re naturally resilient. It’s also incredibly difficult to support a child’s grief when their grown-up is struggling with their own. Childhood grief is real, and not all that uncommon —one in five children will experience the death of someone close to them by the time they are 18.
I was a child when my dad died (well, at 20 I wasn’t technically a child — but I certainly felt like one). My nephew was nearly 22 months old when his mom, my sister, died unexpectedly in 2017.
My daughter has two deceased grandparents that she will never meet, and an aunt who was gone before her first birthday. It is important to me that my daughter and nephew grow up knowing the people in our family who left us too soon.
In the days after my sister’s death, I began thinking about what we could do for my nephew — how could we support him moving forward? How could we help him know my sister, even though he was so young when she died?
The book provides glimpses into the life he had with her, a life that he no longer remembers.
Why Remembrance Books?
There are some in grief who immediately throw themselves into pictures and memories. There are others who keep pictures at bay, or only look on special occasions. Then there is everything else in between. There’s no right way, but regardless of how an adult chooses to engage with memories of the deceased, a child should have access to pictures and stories and should not be dependent on the grown-ups around them. I think this is…