There's no greater loss than the death of a child. Included this week is a helpful, empowering book for bereaved parents and a group of books to help children deal with the loss of a loved one.
"Surviving My First Year of Child Loss: Personal Stories from Grieving Parents" by Nathalie Himmelrich; Reach for the Sky; $17.99
This incredibly personal, humanistic collection of personal stories written by 26 bereaved parents aims to offer comfort, community and support to other parents and family members experiencing the most intense pain possible. Essays cover the first year of loss; parents from all over the world share how they survived the death of their baby, younger children, older children and even adult children. Hope is the reigning answer. There's an emphasis on the vital need for health and reaching out for support, as well as how giving back and living with purpose can relieve grief.
Nathalie Himmelrich herself is a bereaved parent and the author of other books about dealing with grief. She writes in a worldly, calm and caring voice. The personal essays, though heart-wrenching, are beautiful and full of love, life and the importance of growth and trekking on healthfully.
Himmerlrich hopes that by reading these shared experiences of child loss, newly bereaved parents will begin to muster hope that they, too, will survive and be reassured they aren't going crazy. Readers are encouraged to practice self-care and find meaning after loss. They'll also be shown how to embrace love and hope.
More than anything else, the "Surviving My First Year of Child Loss project invites grieving parents to find support in a community they never intended to join.
This book is an incredibly kind gift for anyone who's experienced profound loss, helpful not only for that first stabbing year but for all years after. Himmelrich also provides a Facebook group and website for parents. Visit it at www.grievingparents.net/surviving-my-first-year-of-child-loss/.
"Aunt Fanny's Star" by Bridget Weineger; illustrated by Feridun Oral; minedition/Michael Neugebauer Edition; 40 pages; $18.99.
With a classic storybook look for friendly forests and timeless speaking rabbits, Bridget Weineger presents a tale of elderly Aunt Fanny, who comes to live with Mama Bunny, Papa Bunny and three young bunnies. Aunt Fanny is old. She tells young Tony: "At some point, each of us must go elsewhere — to that place where we were before we were born. It is where we return when we die." Though Fanny is losing weight and getting weaker, she sleds with the youngsters in the winter, tell stories at night and hands out her precious belongings. Eventually, she dies in her sleep, and the family cries but makes sure to understand that she no longer needs her tired, old body and "is somewhere else." They wonder, "Where might she be having fun and telling stories now?"
Lovely watercolors and sensitive writing will resonate with children who've lost a loved one. At the end is a happy depiction of a sparkling night sky "and the stars in heavens twinkling happily back" to the children. It's a fantastic story for all.
"Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List" by Kate Klise; illustrated by M. Sarah Klise; Feiwel & Friends; 32 pages; $17.99.
For young children facing the loss of a beloved pet, Kate Klise's happy picture book reminds us that spending lots of time with a loved one is the most precious gift of all. Of course, this relates to human loved ones, as well. In this story, Eli, the big sheepdog, has been with Astrid since she was a baby. But as they both get older, she makes a bucket list for him, which includes taking him down a slide with her and riding with him on her bike. She even gets special permission to get him into a movie theater showing of "Lassie," and to a fancy restaurant for spaghetti.
This is a sweet tale about a very kind little girl who loves her dog more than anything. It reminds readers to enjoy their pets because their lives are relatively short, and that making the most of days together is the best antidote to a brief but love-filled life. The sister duo behind the book has created an uplifting, lovely read that's sure to make an impression on young, caring minds.
To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.