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As a parent I prepared by reading all of the books. I still do not have all of the answers, but I know how I want to handle the big stuff. Having two primary aged children, it never dawned on me that one day I would have to answer some really tough questions about death in the middle of a global pandemic. During a time where the world was experiencing greater distance and isolation, my family experienced a number of losses. Not knowing what to do, since the person I always went to for advice was gone, I reached for books. 


tears by Sibylle Delacroix / a black and white drawing of a young girl from the nose up, crying, against a teal background.When I needed a way to explain why mommy was crying, reading Tears by Sibylle Delacroix with my children was a great way to normalize and talk about tears. It was amazing to see my children grasp how it is okay to process our emotions through tears. They were able to connect the dots by saying, “Mommy, are your tears coming out because you miss Grandma?” This enabled me to be open about my sadness and show how expressing your feelings when someone passes away is a good thing, even if it’s a sad thing.


when grandfather flew by patricia maclachlin and chris sheban / a chalk drawing of three young children standing in a field, with a tent behind them, looking up into the skyTo help my children draw their own conclusions about life after death, books were that inspiration and support I needed. I loved the beautiful connection made in When Grandfather Flew by Patricia MacLachlin and Chris Sheban, where Milo imagines his Grandfather as a Bald Eagle. It reminds me of when I was four years old and my grandfather said he wanted to be a cat basking in the sun all day.  After a long battle with cancer, my grandfather passed. Later, my grandma adopted a cat and I loved imagining that my grandpa was that cat basking in the sun.  My children love to imagine Grandma is playing fetch with our dog, Buddy.


old pearl by wendy wehman / a water colour drawing of a yellow chickThe loss of a pet has a profound impact on young children as well. I really enjoyed reading Old Pearl by Wendy Wahman, where you could see the bond between Theo and Pearl grow until they had to say goodbye. Recently, I have had fellow parents reach out after suffering the loss of a loved one asking, “How do I explain this to my child when I can barely cope myself?”  I always recommend a good book. When you do not have the words, books are always there to start that dialogue. There are a few upcoming titles that also explore these issues, including The Sour Cherry Tree by Naseem Hrab, releasing in Oct 2021; and If You Miss Me by Jocelyn Li Langrand, releasing in Dec 2021.


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