By: Haylee Robert
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
The invisible String is a good read for young children to begin to understand the connection between themselves and the people they love, no matter who or where they are. In the story, a mother is explaining to her children that we all have an invisible string that connects our hearts to everybody we love, whether they are across the world, under water, in outer space or even in heaven. When we feel love for somebody we are connected to it tugs on the string and they feel it in their heart. The story concludes that no matter what, we are all connected.
Though the book doesn’t directly relate to infant loss or death in much detail at all, it is a great way to help young children understand the invisible bond that is always there between the people we love. The story is simple and opens plenty of space for dialogue to happen while reading together. The illustrations are adorable and there are hidden hearts to find on each page.
I love this book – it’s simple and easy for young kids to understand. We started reading this book with our daughter when she first started asking more questions about her brother. It seemed to satisfy her need for explanations and she now often can be found tugging her imaginary heart string when we are talking about him.
We Were Gonna Have a Baby, but We Had an Angel Instead by Pat Schwiebert
We Were Gonna Have a Baby, but We Had an Angel Instead is a beautifully written story from the perspective of an older sibling at the time of their brother or sisters death during pregnancy. It is very direct, just as you would expect from a young child and does a great job at acknowledging grief from a child’s view. The book does a wonderful job at addressing that parents, grandparents and even kids all grieve too. It is a great read to help siblings understand death, sadness and all of the emotions that surround loss. This book is a very helpful tool for families to read together and navigate their own feelings surrounding death and grief.
This is an excellent read. I love how bluntly it was written. I think people often believe that children don’t understand as much as they actually do, when really they don’t need the truth to be sugar coated all the time. Learning about death is an inevitable life lesson and I believe that it is much easier to grasp at a young age rather than in adulthood for the first time. I also loved how the author recognized the child’s grief and his sadness was an accepted and honoured emotion during his grieving process.
Ethan’s Butterflies by Christine Jonas-Simpson
Ethan’s Butterflies is a heartwarming story told by Emma, an elephant and big sister to Ethan, who died in Momma’s tummy. Emma is sad and confused and has many questions surrounding her brother’s death. With the help of her parents, she learns that even though Ethan isn’t still on earth that his spirit lives on forever and they will always be together.
This is a great book for young children to begin to understand death, mourning and spirituality. Carefully side stepping religion, it recognizes the mix of emotions that children have surrounding grief and loss. Emma doesn’t understand many of the common traditions held after a death, like caskets and funerals. The book navigates the rollercoaster of emotions that a young child may experience when they don’t fully understand what’s happening around them or why.
This is one of our favourite books to read with our young family about grief. It is a heartwarming story that has helped our daughter understand more about her brother’s death, from sadness to finding signs that he is with us when we think of him. It has been a great tool for guiding our children through the process of grieving as time passes.
Haylee Robert, Outreach Director for the run, is a proud mother to 3 children, Amélie, Martin and Théodore. Her son Martin was born at 19 weeks after nearly a month of unexplainable prenatal complications. Too young to survive but born a fighter, he lived for an hour before his heart beat faded away. New to the Ottawa area from Alberta, Haylee is grateful to have found a circle of understanding peers in a new city. She is excited to team up with the Butterfly Run and share her passion for infant loss advocacy and outreach with the Ottawa community.