I’ve mentioned in blog posts before that I’m a Playmaker. Recently, a fellow Playmaker posted to the group Facebook page asking for resources and information to support a preschooler whose father died. I gathered some of my go-to resources to respond and thought that others might find them useful. I’m posting them here so I’ll remember, and hopefully it will help others as well. Please feel free to add suggestions for other materials in the comments, as it is great to have a variety of materials to serve different families and needs.
Sesame Street “When Families Grieve”
Sesame Workshop has created wonderful resources for caregivers of young children around grief. They have created two guides, one for the general public and one for military families with accompanying facilitator guides. These are available as a family packet that contains a parent resource guide, DVD with a story featuring Elmo, and a children’s storybook. You can order them (for free!) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also download or print all of the materials from their website.
The Fred Rogers Company “Dealing with Death”
This parent resource page is a wonderful, brief overview of working with young children who have experienced a loss. It discusses children’s curiosity and questions surrounding death, feelings expression, and the need to prepare children for funerals and rituals surrounding death. The “Helpful Hints” tab has good guidelines for talking about death with young children.
Books for Young Children
There are many books for early childhood that cover death and grief. Here are a few of my favorites that are suitable for a general audience as they use simple, but gentle and truthful language, and avoid specific reference to any one religious belief. I am linking to the Amazon pages for these books for easy reference, but do not receive any monetary gain from doing so.
I Miss You: A First Look At Death by Pat Thomas
Where Are You: A Child’s Book About Loss by Laura Olivieri
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie
Although not specifically about death, the next two books can be useful for helping children feel a continued connection with the deceased:
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
Locate a Family Grief Support Center
New York Life and the Moyer Foundation have partnered to create the National Bereavement Resource Guide which includes listings for grief support centers/organizations and grief camps in every state.
The Centering Corporation has many resources including books, pamphlets and educational materials for working with bereaved families.
I hope that these resources are useful for supporting young children experiencing grief and loss. Please share resources you find helpful in the comments!
Photo Credit: Jessica Lucia via Flickr