This week we had a great conversation with Carrie Moore. Carrie spent 25 years as a journalist and editor at The Deseret News in Salt Lake City winning national, regional, state and local reporting awards from a variety of media organizations. She has been an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University since 2005 teaching media writing, and recently spent five years in the healthcare field working in pastoral patient care as a board certified chaplain. She serves as executive director of The Bradley Center for Grieving Children and Families, a local non-profit organization. This week we get to talk to Carrie about the process of grieving, how we can help our children through the grieving process, and how to help others who are grieving. Here is what we discussed this week.
- Carrie Moore’s background and the story behind the beginnings of the Bradley Center.
- The purpose of the Bradley Center.
- The benefit of talking through grief.
- Events that lead to the formation of the Bradley Center.
- The need for connection when going through grief.
- How to help children get through the fear of talking about death.
- The danger of isolation when grieving.
- How to talk to kids about grief.
- The value of a belief system when talking about death.
- Death and grieving are normal.
- Grief is a process, not an event.
- Why it’s important for parents to grieve in front of their children.
- People react differently to events even in the same family.
- How perceptions affect the way children grieve.
- How to grieve in front of your children without scaring them.
- Principles to help kids deal with grief of all kinds.
- How to maintain connection to the deceased family member.
- What to do when you have children who don’t want to talk through their grief.
- Grief takes time.
- Grief can cause a physiological response.
- Things we can do to help others when they are grieving
- How to turn grief into hope.
Mom Squad Challenge: Call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time and invite them to lunch.
Children’s Books That Deal With Grief and Loss
Recommended by the National Alliance for Grieving Children
Books for Younger Children
Mary Bahr. If Nathan Were Here. Illustrated by Karen A. Jerome. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000. After his best friend dies, a boy is comforted by the memories he stores in a memory box containing “all the best things we remember about Nathan.” Ages 4–8.
Mary Bahr. The Memory Box. Illustrated by David Cunningham. Morton Grove, Ill.: Albert Whitman, 1995. A young boy and his grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s, create a box to store family tales and traditions. Ages 4–8.
T. A. Barron. Where Is Grandpa? Illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet. New York: Philomel Books, 2000.As his family reminisces about his grandfather’s death, a young boy copes with his feelings and
thoughts by recognizing that his grandfather is still with him in a special way in all the places they
shared. Ages 4–7.
Cathy Blanford. Something Happened. Illustrated by Phyllis Childers. Western Springs, Ill.: Cathy Blanford,2008. Beautifully illustrated. Discusses pregnancy loss in language easy for young children
to understand. Also has information for grieving parents to help their children. Ages 3–7.
Marc Brown. When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death. Illustrated by Laurie Krasny Brown. Boston: Little, Brown, 1996. This cartoon-like book offers comfort and reassurance to children
by addressing their fears about death and explaining in simple language the feelings people may
have when a loved one dies and ways of remembering someone who has died. Ages 3–8.
Margaret Wise Brown. The Dead Bird. New York: Morrow, 2004. A simple story in which children find a dead bird and conduct a funeral and burial. Ages 4–8.
Eve Bunting. The Summer of Riley. New York: Harper Trophy-Cotler, 2002. A boy adjusts to his parents’
divorce and his grandfather’s death by establishing a relationship with a dog. Ages 9–12.
Jo Carson. You Hold Me and I’ll Hold You. Illustrated by Annie Cannon. New York: Orchard Books,
1992. A young girl and her father comfort each other at the funeral of her great-aunt. Ages 4–8.
Seymour Chwast. Ode to Humpty Dumpty. Illustrated by Harriet Ziefert. Boston: Houghton Miffl in, 2001. The ultimate book for understanding rituals. A town comes together to memorialize Humpty’s
death. Ages 5–13.
Bill Cochran. The Forever Dog. Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. Mike
makes a Forever Plan with his dog, Corky, to be best friends forever; it works beautifully until
Corky dies unexpectedly. In his grief, Mike is angry at Corky for breaking his promise. With his
mother’s help, Mike realizes the Forever Plan is going to work differently. Corky will be in his
heart forever. Ages 4–8.
Janice Cohn. I Had a Friend Named Peter: Talking to Children About the Death of a Friend. Illustrated by Gail Owen. New York: Morrow, 1987. When Betsy’s playmate dies from an accident while chasing a ball into the street, her parents, teacher, and classmates help her cope with the loss and describe the
coming funeral and burial, inviting her to attend if she wants to; includes two sections, one for
parents and one for children. Ages 4–7.
Janice Cohn. Molly’s Rosebush: A Concept Book. Illustrated by Gail Owen. Morton Grove, Ill.: Albert
Whitman, 1994. Through the story of Molly, whose mother suffers a miscarriage, this book offers
guidance to parents about how children are affected by such a loss and provides a way of explaining
the loss to young children. Ages 3–6.
Mary Newell DePalma. A Grand Old Tree. New York: A. A. Levine, 2005. Beautifully illustrated, easyreader picture book about the life cycle. The grand old tree slowly crumbled and became part
of the earth. The roots of her “grandchildren” sink deep into the earth and are home to many
creatures. Ages 4–8.
Tomie DePaola. Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs. New York: Penguin, 1978; reissued 1997. A boy
learns to face the eventual deaths of his grandmother and great-grandmother. Ages 3–8.
Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan. A Dog Like Jack. New York: Holiday House, 2001. Story of loving and losing an
aged pet. An epilogue contains suggestions for parents about pet loss. Ages 4–8.
Joan Drescher. The Moon Balloon: A Journey of Hope and Discovery for Children and Families. Waltham,Mass.: Arvest Press, 2005. Beautifully illustrated book about hot-air balloons, each of which contains a feeling that a child might have when coping with change. Examples of the balloons include
the angry balloon, the tear balloon, the stress balloon, the love balloon, and the giggle balloon.
Gives children an opportunity to draw or write about their feelings and offers helpful tips for
adults. Ages 6–11.
Anne Fontaine. Ocho Loved Flowers. Illustrated by Obadinah. Seattle: Stoneleigh Press, 2007. A story
about Annie and her cat, Ocho. Ocho becomes ill and the veterinarian tells Annie and her mother
that Ocho has only one month to live. During Ocho’s last month, Annie learns how to help her
mom care for him. After Ocho dies, Annie buys flowers in memory of Ocho. Ages 4–8.
Mem Fox. Tough Boris. New York: Illustrated by Kathryn Brown. Harcourt Brace, 1994. When his parrot
dies, Boris shows that even he, a scary pirate, can express his sadness and grief. Ages 4–8.
Marilyn Gryte. No New Baby. Illustrated by Kristi McClendon. Omaha: Centering Corporation, 1999. A
picture book for children whose brother or sister died before birth. Addresses common feelings,
such as guilt and blame: “Did I do it when I patted too hard?” “Sometimes I didn’t want a new
baby.” Includes tips for helping children cope with miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death.
Kathleen Hemery. The Brightest Star. Illustrated by Ron Boldt. Omaha: Centering Corporation, 1998. A
young girl whose mother dies finds comfort in searching for the brightest star in the sky because
her mother always searched for the brightest star and because finding the brightest star helps her
feel closer to her mother. Ages 6–14.
Margaret Holmes. Molly’s Mom Died. Illustrated by Susan Aitken. Omaha: Centering Corporation,
1999. Picture book about a young girl whose mother died. This book is very descriptive and
will help children understand some of the emotions that they have when they are grieving. The
mother of Molly’s friend also died; their friendship helps Molly feel better. Includes tips for helping
grieving children. Ages 5–9.
Margaret Holmes. Sam’s Dad Died. Illustrated by Susan Aitken. Omaha: Centering Corporation, 1999.
Story about a boy whose father died. Helps children understand the emotions they experience
when they are grieving. Addresses father loss through the eyes of a child. Includes tips for helping
grieving children. Ages 5–9.
Margaret Holmes. A Terrible Thing Happened. Washington, D.C.: Magination Press, 2000. A book to
help children express their feelings after witnessing a trauma. Includes a caregiver’s resource section.
Deborah Hopkinson. Bluebird Summer. Illustrated by Bethanne Anderson. New York: Greenwillow
Books, 2001. Two children work on grandpa’s farm after grandma’s death, nurturing and maintaining
her garden. Ages 4–8.
Eiko Kadono. Grandpa’s Soup. Illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1999.
After Grandma’s death, Grandpa fixes her soup recipe for his friends, including his mice friends.
Laurie A. Kanyer. 25 Things to Do When Grandpa Passes Away, Mom and Dad Get Divorced, or the Dog Dies. Seattle: Parenting Press, 2004. Offers education to parents or other adults who are working with grieving children. The second half of the book describes twenty-five activities to help children
who are experiencing loss, including art and craft activities as well as high-energy outdoor activities.
Miska Miles. Annie and the Old One. Illustrated by Peter Parnall. Boston: Little, Brown, 1971. The story
of a Navajo girl’s efforts to prevent the inevitable by unraveling each day’s weaving on a rug whose
completion she fears will bring her grandmother’s death. Ages 6–10.
Marjorie Blain Parker. Jasper’s Day. Illustrated by Janet Wilson. Tonawanda, N.Y.: Kids Can Press, 2002.
Knowing that their beloved dog, Jasper, is dying and in pain, the family plans a day to celebrate
before taking him to the vet to be euthanized. Ages 4–8.
Ellen Sabin. The Healing Book. New York: Watering Can Press, 2006. Beautifully illustrated and colorful
memory book filled with page after page of opportunities for children to work through grief-related
feelings as well as remember the person who died. Excellent tool for adults working with
grieving children. Ages 6–13.
Rachel Ellenberg Schulson. Guns: What You Should Know. Illustrated by Mary Jones. Morton Grove, Ill.:
Albert Whitman, 1997. Includes descriptions of different kinds of guns and explains what a bullet
is and what it can do. The text lists three rules for children when they see a gun: (1) Never assume
it is a toy gun—stay away. (2) Find a grownup; never stay in a room with a child who is touching a
gun. (3) Never let someone aim a gun at you, even if they say it is unloaded. Ages 4–8.
Harold Ivan Smith and Joy Johnson. What Does That Mean? Omaha: Centering Corporation, 2006. A
dictionary of death, dying, and grief terms for children. Offers age-appropriate definitions of
words that grieving children hear but may not understand. Ages 6–12.
Pat Thomas. I Miss You: A First Look at Death. Illustrated by Lesley. Harker Hauppauge, N.Y.: Barron’s,
2001. “Every day someone is born and every day someone dies” begins this frank and sensitive
look at death, including how people die, funerals, a survivor’s feelings; it ends with the statement
that “no one is completely gone as long as you can remember the one you love.” Ages 4–8.
Susan Varley. Badger’s Parting Gifts. New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 1984. The story of a beloved
animal’s death and the grief of those who loved him. Ages 5–9.
Judith Vigna. Saying Goodbye to Daddy. Morton Grove, Ill.: Albert Whitman, 1991. A girl in kindergarten
whose father dies in a car accident has difficulty living with the loss. With the help of her mother
and grandmother, she comes to understand his absence. Ages 4–8.
Judith Viorst. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney. Illustrated by Erik Blegvad. New York: Atheneum,
1971. A boy thinks of the ten best things about his pet cat, who has died. Ages 3–9.
E. B. White. Charlotte’s Web. Illustrated by Garth Williams. New York: Harper & Row, 1952. Classic story
describes grief experienced at the death of a close friend—Charlotte, a spider—and the continuing
of life through her offspring. Ages 3 and up.
Jeanette Winter. September Roses. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004. South African
sisters who raise roses come to New York on September 11, 2001. Addresses the sorrow
of the terrorist attack and the response of those living through the disaster. A picture book, although
some children may have difficulty reading the text because it is in cursive. Ages 4–8.
Charlotte Zolotow. My Grandson Lew. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. Lew learns the value of memories of his deceased grandfather. Ages 3–7.
Books for older children and teens
Tara Altebrando. What Happens Here. New York: MTV Books, 2008. A frank story about Lindsay’s murder, told by her best friend, Cloe. Lindsay went missing after a night out at a nightclub in Las
Vegas. Separated from her friends, she ended up walking around on her own. Two days later, her
body was found in a Dumpster in a duffle bag. She had been beaten, raped, and strangled. The
police had no idea who had done it. Young adult novel. Ages 14–18.
The Dougy Center (Portland, Ore.). After a Death: An Activity Book for Children, 2007; After a Murder:
A Workbook for Grieving Kids,. 2002; After a Suicide: A Workbook for Grieving Kids, 2001. Interactive
workbooks in which children learn from other children who have experienced a death. These
workbooks encourage children to express their thoughts and feelings through a variety of activities,
including drawings, puzzles, word games, and helpful stories and advice from other kids and
adults. Ages 9 and up.
Helen Fitzgerald. The Grieving Teen: A Guide for Teenagers and Their Friends. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000. This classic covers many issues related to grief. It guides teens through everything
from the sickbed to the funeral, from the first day back at school to the first anniversary of the
death. Practical and encouraging, this book lets teens know that they are not alone. Resources
and website(s) are dated, but the content is as true for this century as for the last. Ages 13–18.
Paula Fox. The Eagle Kite. New York: Dell/Laurel-Leaf, 1996. When Liam, a high school freshman,
learns that his father is dying of AIDS, he experiences feelings of shame and betrayal, heightened
by family secrets, as he reckons with the truth and ultimately finds healing in his relationship with
his father. Ages 11–14.
Dina Friedman. Playing Dad’s Song. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006. When Gus was nine, his
father died in the attack on the World Trade Center. Gus struggles with missing his father and, at
the same time, does not want anyone to ask him about his father. He feels isolated because he is
the only person he knows whose parent died on 9/11. He uses music for comfort and to honor the
memory of his father. Ages 9–12.
Marc Gellman and Thomas Hartman. Bad Stuff in the News: A Guide to Handling the Headlines. New York: SeaStar Books, 2002. After seeing a big office building crash to the ground or seeing kids shooting
other kids at school, you might think the world is so scary that the only safe place is hiding
under your bed. Written to help kids understand and cope with dangers in the world. Includes
terrorism, kids killing kids, disasters (both natural and human caused), death through abuse,
dangerous sports, diseases that kill, and more. Simple and easy to read. Ages 9–12.
Barbara Snow Gilbert. Stone Water. Arden, N.C.: Front Street, 1996. After Grandpa Hughes suffers a
stroke and lies unconscious in a nursing home bed, 14-year-old Grant is sure that his grandfather
is ready to die and struggles with the decision to take matters into his own hands in this story of
assisted suicide. Ages 10 and up
Earl Grollman and Joy Johnson. A Complete Book About Death for Kids. Omaha: Centering Corporation, 2006. Comprehensive information to help explain death to older children. Complex concepts are clearly defined. Written in easy-to-understand language. Ages 9–12.
Amy Hest. Remembering Mrs. Rossi. Illustrated by Heather Maione. Somerville, Mass: Candlewick Press, 2007. Annie Rossi is eight years old when her mother, a sixth-grade teacher, dies. Her father does
his best to do all of the things that Annie’s mother did, but no one can replace Annie’s mother.
Annie is helped when her mother’s class creates a special memory book about her (included at
the end of this novel). With few books addressing the death of a mother, this one is a standout.
Gloria Horsley and Heidi Horsley. Teen Grief Relief. Highland City, Fla.: Rainbow Books, 2007. Information for teens and their parents about ways grieving teens can be helped. Easy to read. Includes
vignettes from teens who have “been there,” as well as activities teens can do to cope with feelings
of sadness, anger, and guilt. Ages 12 and up.
Lynne B. Hughes. You Are Not Alone. New York: Scholastic, 2005. Written by the founder of Comfort
Zone Camp, the author discusses the death of both her parents by the time she was twelve years
old. “My grief came out sideways and front ways and mostly in quiet ways.” With the author, teens
talk about life after the loss of a parent. Ages 12 and up.
Carrie Stark Hugus. Crossing 13: A Memoir of a Father’s Suicide. Denver: Affirm Publications, 2008. A
teenage girl discovers her father dead from suicide. Young survivors will identify will identify with
and benefit from understanding that their confusing and often frightening grief responses are
normal. Ages 12 and up.
Davida Wills Hurwin. A Time for Dancing. New York: Puffin, 1997; reissued 2009. In this novel about
how terminal illness affects the lives of friends and others around them, two teenage girls who
have been best friends since childhood face mortality when one is diagnosed with histiocytic lymphoma,
a deadly cancer. Ages 12 and up.
Amy Goldman Koss. Side Effects. New Milford, Conn.: Roaring Brook Press, 2006. The story of teenage
Izzy’s bout with cancer. Excellently detailed view of Izzy’s and her family’s coping mechanisms.
Teens will identify with her, whether they or someone they know has cancer or they are just curious
about life-threatening illness. Ages 9–12.
Jill Krementz. How It Feels When a Parent Dies. New York: Knopf, 1981. A photographic essay with children’s descriptions of their experiences. Ages 10 and up.
Erika Leeuwenburgh and Ellen Goldring. Why Did You Die? Activities to Help Children Cope with Grief and Loss. Oakland, Calif.: Instant Help Books, 2008. Offers detailed, helpful activities for children
who have experienced a death. The first part of the book offers practical information for parents
and other adults to help a grieving child. The second half of the book has activities to help grieving
children. Ages 9 and up.
Madeleine L’Engle. A Ring of Endless Light. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1980. A teenage girl
copes with the experience of loss, grief, and terminal illness by discovering underlying spiritual
and moral dimensions. Ages 10 and up.
Wendy Mass. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. New York: Little, Brown, 2006. When Jeremy was eight, his father died in a car accident. A few months before he turned thirteen, he received a mysterious wooden box in the mail that his father had created for him before his death. According to
Jeremy’s father, this box contained the Meaning of Life. There is only one problem: No keys were
included! Jeremy spends the summer finding the keys to unlock this precious gift from his beloved
father. Ages 9–12.
Sheryl McFarlane. The Smell of Paint. Brighton, Mass.: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2006. The story of Jess,
a high school freshman, whose mother is diagnosed with incurable bone cancer. Jess tries to deal
with her mother’s illness by herself, not wanting even her closest friends to know. Explores Jess’s
complicated relationship with her dying mother. Ages 12 and up.
Emilio Parga. Kids Can Cope. Omaha: Centering Corporation, 2009. Activity book for children living
with loss when someone they know has a critical or life-threatening illness. Offers children an opportunity to write about their feelings and explore the changes that are occurring around them.
Besides activities, includes a glossary of illness-related terms that can be puzzling to children.
Katherine Paterson. Bridge to Terabithia. Illustrations by Donna Diamond. New York: HarperTrophy,
1987; reissued HarperTeen, 2004. In this Newberry award-winner, fifth-grader Jess’s rural world
expands when he meets his new neighbor, a tomboy named Leslie. After a rocky start, they become
best friends and create a secret kingdom in the woods named Terabithia, which can be
reached only by swinging on a rope across a creek. When Leslie drowns trying to reach their
special hideaway while alone, Jess’s life is changed forever as he struggles with anger and grief in
coping with the loss. (A guidebook for using this story in the classroom is available from Teacher
Created Materials.) Ages 9–12.
Lila Perl. Dying To Know: About Death, Funeral Customs, and Final Resting Places. Brookfi eld, Conn.:
Twenty-First Century Books, 2001. This small book uses photographs and text to acquaint the
reader with death customs and practices in the United States and other parts of the world. Organized
into sections that address attitudes and practices from different religions and countries, as
well as historical information. Ages 12–18.
Sherri L. Smith. Sparrow. New York: Laurel-Leaf Books, 2006. Story of a young girl, Kendall, whose
parents and brother die in a car accident. Four years old, she is the sole survivor. In a quest to find
her only surviving relative, Kendall discovers she can make it on her own. Ages 12–15.
Jordan Sonnenblick. Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. New York: Scholastic, 2006. Jeffery is diagnosed
with leukemia. Big brother protector Steven says, “So how come when I wasn’t looking Jeffy got
cancer?” Written in the voice of an older sibling, the story touches on many aspects of living
with life-threatening illness. In the course of the book, Steven begins to come to terms with his
brother’s illness and the strain it is putting on his entire family. Ages 11–14.
Staff of the New York Times. A Nation Challenged: A Visual History of 9/11 and Its Aftermath (Young Reader’s Edition). New York: Scholastic, 2002. Combines stories published in the newspaper and Pulitzer
Prize-winning photographs to present an account of terrifying events in an age-appropriate
fashion. Ages 9–14.
Peter Lane Taylor and Nicola Christos. The Secret of Priest’s Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story. Minneapolis: Kar-Ben, 2007. Remarkable story of the survival of Jewish families who lived in a gypsum
cave called Popwa Yama in the Ukraine for 344 days to escape the Gestapo. Excerpts from the
privately published memoir of Esther Stermer, We Fight to Survive, recount that dark epoch—the
darkness being both literal and figurative. Ages 9–12.
Terry Trueman. Hurricane: A Novel. New York: HarperCollins, 2008. José from La Rupa, Honduras,
tells the story of surviving a hurricane. At first, there are no worries because a hurricane has never
hit that part of the country. José narrates the story of his life before and after the storm affects his
life. Teens will find his story both interesting and informative. Ages 9–12.
Alan Wofelt. Healing Your Grieving Heart for Teens. Boulder, Colo.: Companion Press, 2001. Offers tips
and ideas for expression of grief. Activity oriented. Ages 12 and up.
Kazumi Yumoto. The Friends. Translated by Cathy Hirano. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996;
reissued 2005. In a story that is both universal and rooted in the country and culture from which
it comes, three young boys’ fascination with death leads them to form an unexpected friendship
with an old man, through which they confront their fears and learn to accept the inevitable with
a sense of joy in life. Ages 9 and up.
Nan Zastrow. Ask Me . . . 30 Things I Want You to Know: How to be a Friend to a Survivor of Suicide. Omaha: Centering Corporation, 2007. Straightforward book about helping survivors of suicide. These
tips will assist family members and friends of survivors when they are at a loss how to help. Tip #8:
“Allow me to ask ‘why’ knowing you don’t know either.” Ages 16 and up.