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Telling Your Story by Colleen Lindstrom

When a loved one dies, it can be really hard to consistently find the words to help your child through their grief experience while you are also grieving.  It’s important to continue to tell children what’s going on in a way that they will understand.  Frequently we worry that memories will get lost, or stories will be forgotten, or our children will be too young to remember what has been lost and that will color the grief experience. You will think, “I have so much to tell them about this person, I could write a book!” To which I say, “DO IT!”

These days, writing a book isn’t about putting pen to paper, and then finding a publisher. Especially the kind of book I’m talking about. Any number of photo sharing websites (I use Shutterfly) have the online software to assist you in creating a picture book and captions that tell your story in your words. All you need is a few dollars and some time.

Think about the following things while you build your book:

  • What are the facts that you’d like to share with your child? When and where was this person born? Who were they to you and to your child? How long did they live? When did they die (in relationship to the child’s life, when you were 4, before you were born, etc.)?
  • What are your favorite memories of this person? Did you have a special relationship with the person? Did your child have a special relationship with the person?
  • What do you want your child to know about the relationship they can have with this person after death? If you believe in an afterlife, this is a great time to put that into words.  Is there something in nature that reminds you of the person you are grieving? Is there a place you will go to remember that person from time to time?
Be careful not to answer questions that they don’t have, yet. Oftentimes, as adults, we make assumptions about how our children will understand things. Give them the framework to understand, and allow the questions to come naturally. Having a book that you can read to your child like a story book will create a beautiful time for the two of you to work through grief together, but don’t force it, follow their lead and you can’t go wrong.
I have found in my own grieving process that the honesty of children is so beautiful. They almost always say just the right thing because they come from such a pure place. If we allow them the space to grieve, and the framework within which to discuss their grief, it is truly amazing. Making your own book versus finding a children’s book that is already written gives you the power to tell your unique story, and you may even find that it does wonders for your grieving self in the process.

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