Parenting is tough. There are things that people don't tell you you'll need to deal with while on this crazy parenting journey. One of those is death. Our kids have lost three great-grandparents in the past few years. While they were not very close with any of them, it's an issue that still needs to be discussed. Honestly, we've been pretty lucky that the kids have not lost anyone they're incredibly close with yet, but unfortunately that's inevitable.
I found that reading a book helps everyone ease into the conversation about death. I gathered a bunch of books that can help you start the discussion with your kids when they've lost someone close to them.
Books to Help Talk to Kids about Death
Someone I Love Died – This book is aimed at children ages 4 to 8 who have lost someone close. There are Biblical references throughout and there are spaces for children to write their own feelings and create a memory book of their loved one.
The Memory Box – Being told from the unique perspective of a child, this book allows the reader to imagine the loss of any they have loved – a friend, family member, or even a pet. There is also a parent guide in the back that includes information on helping children manage the complex and difficult emotions they feel when they lose someone they love, as well as suggestions on how to create their own memory box.
The Invisible String – The Invisible String is the perfect tool for coping with all kinds of separation anxiety, loss, and grief. In this relatable and reassuring contemporary classic, a mother tells her two children that they're all connected by an invisible string. The invisible string is, of course, made with love and keeps everyone connected to the ones they love. This heartwarming picture book for all ages explores questions about the intangible yet unbreakable connections between us, and opens up deeper conversations about love.
God Gave Us Heaven – This gentle story provides satisfying answers from a Christian point-of-view for a young child’s most difficult questions about what happens after this life, inviting “little cubs” to find comfort in knowing that God Gave Us Heaven. It does explain the difference between angels and people and that those that go to Heaven do not become angels.
When Dinosaurs Die – Some kids may find this book too much, but if you have little ones that really want to know things and you're not afraid of telling them the truth, I'd check this one out. Here to offer advice and reassurance are the wise dinosaurs from Dinosaurs to the Rescue, Dinosaurs Divorce, Dinosaurs Travel, and Dinosaurs Alive and Well. This helpful book provides answers to kids' most-often asked questions and also explores the feelings we may have regarding the death of a loved one, and the ways to remember someone after he or she has died.
I Miss You – When a close friend or family member dies, it can be difficult for children to express their feelings. This book helps boys and girls understand that death is a natural complement to life, and that grief and a sense of loss are normal feelings for them to have following a loved one's death. Kids are encouraged to understand personal feelings and social problems as a first step in dealing with them.
Something Very Sad Happened – This one is intended to be read to two- and three-year-old children to help them understand death and process the loss of a loved one. The story explains death, lets children know it is okay to feel sad, reassures children that they can still love the person who died. The story is intended to be personalized by the person reading to the child. Certain words are color-coded in red to cue to you to substitute with the appropriate names and pronouns for the person who died.
Tom's Great-Grandma Eileen – This touching picture book for kids is mostly intended for ages 5-7, but toddlers and preschoolers will get its simple message too. It's important to note that this story helps little ones learn about life cycles and death in a delicate and sensitive way without mention of religion or funeral details.
Missing Mommy – If you need a story for a child that has lost their mother, this is the one. It explores the many emotions a bereaved child may experience, from anger and guilt to sadness and bewilderment. This story focuses on the positive―the recognition that the child is not alone but still part of a family that loves and supports him.