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The power of reading books to your child when a loved one is dying.

The Power Of Reading Books To Your Child When A Loved One Is Dying.

Reading books about death and loss can help a child to better understand what has happened and realise they are not alone. Books can also help children understand complex feelings, explain the facts and permanence of death, or even help children connect with memories of their lost loved one.

How reading can help a child when a love one is dying?

When you are preparing for a loved one to die, reading books can help a child or young person understand what is happening as well as what may happen. They can encourage a child or young person to ask questions and share their concerns, helping them to associate the ‘story’ to what they are experiencing and allowing them to express their emotions and understand that they are not alone.

It is important, when choosing the right book for your child, that you consider their age and their stage of grief. The stories can be about a person being ill or it could be an animal in the story that is terminally ill. Reading a story together can provide a starting point for conversations and encourage an open dialogue. It opens channels for discussing emotions, memories and any questions the child may have about their bereavement journey.

Reading can help children and young people understand the complex feelings and emotions they are having and to help them to see, although perhaps they have not felt this way before, how they are feeling is normal in relation to what they are experiencing. This can be hugely reassuring. Reading stories about others going through a similar circumstances can bring reassurance, support and comfort. Books can offer coping strategies by allowing children to see how the characters cope. They can help give tools and ideas for helping with the many emotions that they will face. Age-appropriate books can offer a huge sense of comfort.

Books we recommend

As your child progresses through their journey there are many story books and workbooks that can support their changing needs. Some of the books we would suggest are as follows:

  • You’ve got dragons by Kathryn Cave and Nick Maland– A book about feelings and how not to ignore them – recommended age primary school
  • As big as it gets by Julie Stokes, Diana Crossley and Di Stubbs  – A book full of useful resources to support your child through their grief – recommended age 6 plus
  • Nurse Ted by Ffion Jones – Terminal Illness/Cancer – both books will help explain questions that children may have about illness and treatment – recommended age 4 – 11
  • The huge bag of worries by Virginia Ironside – A book encouraging children to open up about their fears and anxieties and help them to manage their emotions –  recommended for age 4- 7
  • When dinosaurs die by Laurie Krasny Brown– A guide to understanding death – recommended age 7 – 11
  • You will be Okay by Julie Stokes – This book is a guide on how to navigate grief and allows children and young people to know how they are feeling is normal and that they will be okay. Recommended age 9 plus.

Our helpline  

We are here for you. For anyone struggling to cope, our helpline is open Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 12.30pm. Call 01342 313895 if you need support or advice. We help bereaved children and young people and those facing the death of a loved one in Surrey, Crawley, Mid Sussex and West Kent.  

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