To watch a child grieve and not know what to do is a profoundly difficult experience for parents, teachers, and caregivers. Yet, there are guidelines for helping children develop a lifelong, healthy response to loss.
In When Children Grieve, the authors offer a cutting-edge volume to free children from the false idea of "not feeling bad" and to empower them with positive, effective methods of dealing with loss.
There are many life experiences that can produce feelings of grief in a child, from the death of a relative or a divorce in the family to more everyday experiences such as moving to a new neighborhood or losing a prized possession. No matter the reason or degree of severity, if a child you love is grieving, the guidelines examined in this thoughtful book can make a difference.
It would be a pity if this interesting, humane, and practical book were read only by parents of recently bereaved children--for two reasons. First, the book is about grief in a broad sense. Its lessons apply not only to the child whose pet, aunt, or parent has died, but also to the child whose parents have divorced, who has suffered a debilitating injury, or who has experienced other forms of traumatic loss. Second, let's face it: every child will suffer a loss at some point, so it behooves parents to be prepared in advance. As the authors say, "our task as parents is to prepare our children to deal with the experiences they will have."
It's unfortunate that the book has what might be considered a common structural flaw in self-help books. All of Part I (about 50 pages) is devoted to examining various myths about grieving and mistakes in dealing with it--for example, that the griever should keep busy and try not to feel bad. This is "good advice about bad advice," but it leaves the reader wondering why the authors didn't choose to get on with the plain old "good advice" on page 1. By Part II, it's already clear which coping techniques the authors will recommend. It would have been better to start there. --Richard Farr