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Grief and loss resources on this blog

There are several articles, and one video, on this blog created specifically to help parents whose children are (or may soon be) dealing with grief and loss.  They are collected below for easy reading.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or to set up an appointment for parent coaching around grief and loss, or however you think I can help.

Recommended Books about Death or Grief & Loss

Always & Forever, by Alan Durant, is reviewed in detail here. It is one of my favorite books about grief for kids. Highly recommended.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn isn’t about grief or loss, but it is a book about how hard it is to separate or say goodbye. That’s certainly a related theme when we are talking about grief with children. The main character is a raccoon who is about to start school. He’s sad and worried about leaving his mother–who teaches him a sweet, nurturing trick for self-soothing. I’ve known families that adopted the trick for themselves after reading the book. Very sweet.

The Bug Cemetery, by Frances Hill is about a group of entrepreneurial kids who stumble upon the ‘business’ of funerals.  The brother and sister pair offer “bug funerals,” complete with fake mourners, eulogies, and tombstones  for 10 cents.  But, when their friend’s pet cat is killed, they realize that “Funerals aren’t any fun when they’re for someone you love.”  The illustrator does a great job of conveying sadness, even anguish, in the children’s faces during the real funeral.

I like that this book illustrates that we can pretend to have a feeling, but that it isn’t the same as the real feeling at all.  Very young children often “pretend” to mourn a relative who died before they were born–and that’s normal–but I like having a tool to show the difference.  I also like the way the book shows kids ways that they can cope with death and loss–the children in the book honor their feelings and also honor the dead.

When Dinosaurs Die, by Laura Krasny Brown, is similar to their many other “When Dinosaurs…” books.  It is an informative, non-fiction book on a difficult topic, somewhat cartoonish in style, that explains facts & feelings to kids, and answers their typical questions.  The lack of a narrative makes it a little less interesting to children as a bedtime story, but perhaps makes it an even better choice for an older child who can read and would benefit from having a source of information under his control.

Of course there are many more, but consider this a beginning list.  Please make suggestions about other books to include in this list in the comments section.

Book Review: 2 books about divorce for parents

I love to recommend books to parents, because there is SO much good information available.  Not to mention that books are such a bargain for what you get!  I encourage every divorcing parent I work with to purchase books on divorce for their kids, and to read one for themselves, too.  (BTW, if you’re looking for book recommendations on divorce for kids, go here.)

My clear favorite book for parents is “Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Homes for Your Child” by Isolina Ricci.

My only complaint is that this book nearly 400 pages–with small print! But some things are worth carving out time to read, and this book is one of those things. All questions are answered inside those covers–from Parenting Plans to the power of language, to managing emotions and healing wounds to the new “Businesslike relationship, and troubleshooting problems. Read it cover to cover and then refer back to it when things come up.


The other book that I sometimes recommend to parents is “Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex”, by Julie A. Ross & Judy Corcoran.

“Joint Custody with a Jerk” wins the prize for best book title of all time. In fact, I originally purchased this book solely because of the title, and I bet I’m not the first. But there’s good stuff beyond the cover, too.  For example, I like that this book starts by encouraging the reader to examine their own feelings, and identifying a problem other than ‘my ex is a jerk.’ This is the absolute perfect place to start, and a method I use with families myself. They teach a concept they call the “problem pyramid,” and encourage parents to ask themselves 1: what exactly is the problem, 2, who has upset feelings about the issue, 3, who brought up the issue, and 4, who is responsible for the solution? By working through those questions, the authors say that parents will have a healthy, effective guide as to how they should respond–to the jerky ex, their kids, or in any other relationship where conflicts arise.

If you get through those 700+ pages of parenting advice in those 2 books, and still want more: email me.  I’ll see what else I can dig up.  ;^)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you click the links and then buy.
(and if you do, thanks!)

Book Review: Books about divorce for kids

Do you have any recommended books about…

No matter what the topic, reading a relevant book can help parents navigate through tough times.  They are helpful partly because books give us guidance on important concepts to cover, and a script to follow, but also because the pictures give our kids a concrete visual image to go along with our words.  Today’s post is a collection of brief reviews of some of my favorite books on divorce for younger kids.  (A list of recommended books for parents is available here.)

I’ll start with my favorite book for the youngest kids: Mama and Daddy Bear’s Divorce, by Cornelia Maude Spelman.

I’ve reviewed this one before, but it’s worthy of reposting: The story is about “Dinah” (a bear,) who loves her family but tells us that: “…one day, something sad happened.  Mama and Daddy said they were going to get a divorce.”   Dinah talks about her feelings (sad and scared) and some of her inner questions.  She talks to her parents about her feelings, and both parents reassure her that they will always be her mama/daddy.  As the book progresses, she describes how she spends time with both parents separately.  Her parents make some mistakes, but the theme of parental love and involvement persists.  The book concludes by saying that after time she feels less sad, and that her parents and sister will always be her family.  It’s a peaceful and positive ending.


Was it the Chocolate Pudding? by Sandra Levins is another favorite.  The story unfolds with two brothers making a big mess with some chocolate pudding.  The next day their parents tell the boys that they are getting a divorce.  The older brother puts 2 & 2 together (gets 5) and thinks it’s because of the chocolate pudding, and is therefore his fault.  This gets sorted out in the end, and the kids are portrayed as adjusting well.  This is a great book for really focusing on the fact that divorce is an adult matter, and really addresses the (all too common) misbelief in kids that they are the cause of the problems.  As a small note, this book is unique in that the father stays in the home and has primary custody (not what is usually portrayed.)  I highly recommend this one.


Dinosaurs Divorce, by Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown may be the most well-known book about divorce for kids.  It’s not my favorite, perhaps because of the comic-strip format, but it’s still a good book.  It’s an informative style, not a narrative story.  It covers all the basic info that kids need to know about divorce, including why parents divorce, custody, feelings, holidays, step-parents and more.  Think of it as a reference book for your kid.  Good to have on the shelf.

At Daddy’s on Saturdays, by Linda Walvoord Girard is an older book, but I like it for its realism.  After this school-aged girl’s parents divorce, her father’s custody rights are more like visitation.  One time he even forgets to come.  (ouch!)  But that happens in real life, and for kids for whom that’s true, it’s good to have a book that mirrors their experience.

Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt is really a story about a young girl and her trouble-making dog, who happen to live in a split-custody arrangement.  Really, this is a narrative story that any kid would enjoy (the dog causes lots of trouble!) and the divorce angle is very minor to the story.  But, that’s the reason I like it.  It’s not the book that will explain divorce to your child, nor the book that will help her figure out her emotions, but it is the book that will show that there are all sorts of normal.  That’s a good thing.

Two Homes, by Claire Masurel is another good one for the youngest kids.  The main character is a young boy named Alex, who goes back and forth between both parents’ homes.  The book focuses on one theme–that Alex is loved by both parents.  The last line of the book is particularly sweet: “We love you wherever we are. And we love you wherever you are.”

If you have a favorite that’s not listed here, please leave a comment telling me about it.  I’d love to add to my list!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you click the links and then buy.
(and if you do, thanks!)

Book Review: Mama and Daddy Bear’s Divorce

When parents of young children divorce, explaining the concept of divorce is often a great challenge.  Books can help with this, in part because they give parents a script to follow, concepts to go along with the words, and pictures that give kids a concrete visual image to go along with the words.

Mama and Daddy Bear’s Divorce, by Cornelia Maude Spelman is a great book about divorce for young children.  The story is about “Dinah” (a bear,) who loves her family but tells us that: “…one day, something sad happened.  Mama and Daddy said they were going to get a divorce.”   Dinah talks about her feelings (sad and scared) and some of her inner questions.  She talks to her parents about her feelings, and both parents reassure her that they will always be her mama/daddy.  As the book progresses, she describes how she spends time with both parents separately.  Her parents make some mistakes, but the theme of parental love and involvement persists.  The book concludes by saying that after time she feels less sad, and that her parents and sister will always be her family.  It’s a peaceful and positive ending.

I highly recommend this book, available at your public library, or from amazon here.

Book Review: When I Feel Angry

“When I Feel Angry” is a children’s book by a therapist, Cornelia Maude Spelman.  She’s also the author of “When I Feel Sad,” reviewed earlier here.  When I Feel Angry is also aimed at the younger crowd, from apx 2-9 or so years of age, depending on your child’s reading and interest level.

The main character of this book is a rabbit.  She talks about times when she feels angry:

“I feel angry when I have to stop a game at the best part and clean up my room, or when we finally go swimming it rains.”

She describes how anger feels:

“Anger is a strong, hot feeling.  When I feel angry, I want to say something mean, or yell, or hit.”

She elaborates on the different between a feeling and an action taken in response to a feeling (did I mention the author is a therapist?  ;^)  )

“But feeling like I want to is not the same as doing it.  Feel can’t hurt anyone or get me in trouble, but doing can.”

And then our little rabbit tells kids how she handles her angry feelings:

“I can take deep breaths and blow the air out, hard, to send the anger out of me.  I can make my anger cooler by running, riding my bike, or doing something I really like to do.”

The last few pages acknowledge that sometimes anger is a healthy response (yea!) an covers three more important points: sometimes things can’t be changed, sometimes it’s “me” that needs to change, and sometimes it’s “you” that needs to change.  (again, this is a very healthy message about anger!)

So, consider this another ‘highly recommended” book to keep in your child’s library.  If you’d like to buy this book, you can click on the picture of it below–it’s a link to the book’s page on Amazon.

Book Review: When I Feel Sad

“When I Feel Sad,” by Cornelia Maude Spelman, is a great book that I frequently recommend to parents.  It’s a book for children, ages 2-9 or so…  There are only a few words on each page, and the book starts with descriptions of times that kids feel sad:

“Sometimes I feel sad.  I feel sad when someone won’t let me play.”

After several pages of examples of age-appropriate sad situations for kids, the main character (a guinea pig) describes what sad feels like.  It’s a wonderful explanation for a child:

“Sad is a cloudy, tired feeling.  Nothing seems fun when I feel sad.”

Then main character talks to a loved one, which starts her on the road to feeling better.

“When I feel sad, there are ways to feel better.  I can tell someone I’m sad.”

She plays with friends, feels even better, and the book closes with:

“The sad feeling goes away and I feel good again.  When I’m sad, I know I won’t stay sad!”

While the plot isn’t quite as entertaining as “Knuffle Bunny” or “Where the Wild Things Are,” it’s still an excellent book to have on any child’s shelf.  Teaching our children about emotions is a very important gift we can give them, and this book is a useful aid.  Click below to buy it on Amazon.