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Valencia Family Resource Library Guide: Books for Coping with Death of a Loved One

Welcome

Books to Share & Discuss

Click here for Healing Activities

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Book Discussion & Questions

This book is considered a classic when it comes to the topic of grief and separation. It will be especially practical for the child experiencing separation anxiety. In addition, it’s message is great for reminding a child that the love your child shared with whoever died will never leave them.

Below are some helpful notes you can use or paraphrase when reading the book together. If it’s written in italics it’s a note for you as a parent to read and consider. If it’s written in quotations it’s a discussion prompt for you and your child. There’s no need to use all the notes, just what feels natural or most beneficial for your family.

You and your child may want to read the book one or two times together before using it as a topic of discussion. What’s important is talking together, not forcing a conversation or expecting that reading the book will explain it’s hidden meanings to your child in place of a conversation with you.

Wherever there is a “________” you may insert the name of the loved one you’ve recently lost. You don’t need to use all these suggestions, just what feels right for this moment or the family member you’re reading with.

Discussion Pages 1 & 2

Though Chester is talking about school it’s clear from the illustrations and his tone that this could be any traumatic situation including losing a loved one to death. After the death of a loved one your child may become reclusive. This is especially common during the Depression stage of the grieving process and should be allowed. When it’s time to move on and return to school, work, or childcare the message of this book will be a useful tool in reminding your child they are loved.

Pages 5 & 6

Reminding your child of upcoming positive things despite the death occurring is important. Noticing the beautiful things that surround us can brighten the day of someone who is grieving.

“There are a lot of good things for Chester to do at school. What are some of the things you love about School (or work, or daycare)?”

Pages 7 - 12

After reading about the kissing hand try it!

“Does my kiss make you feel like Chester or does it feel different? If it feels different, “How does it feel different?” 

Then get a kiss from your child and describe how it feels to you!

Pages 8 & 9

This is a lovely illustration of the kiss and how it makes Chester feel. You can draw your own illustrations of how one another’s kisses make each of you feel.

Pages 13 & 14

“Look at those animals going to school. What friends from school do you miss?”

Pages 15 & 16

“You know the love you shared with ________ is a lot like the kissing hand. It will always be with you and can never wash off.”

Pages 17 - 22

“If you’re ever worried about something the way Chester is worried we can share a kissing hand.”

Pages 23 & 24

This would be a nice time to tell your child again how good their kiss made you feel.

Pages 25 & 26

“I like that Chester got to see his friends again because he went back to school, don’t you?”

Page 27

If your child has enjoyed doing the kissing hand you can do it one more time here! 

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn - Read Aloud

From Storyline Online, brought to you by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. All rights reserved by the author. 

The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr

Book Discussion & Questions

Todd Parr’s colorful illustrations and direct text cover a wide variety of emotions making this book another classic when it comes to death. Discussing the emotions within the book will help you to understand what stage or stages of the grieving process your child is currently experiencing.

Below are some helpful notes for you to use or paraphrase when reading the book together. If it’s written in italics, it’s a note for you as a parent to read and consider. If it’s written in quotations, it’s a discussion prompt for you and your child. There’s no need to use all the notes, just what feels natural or most beneficial for your family.

You and your child may want to read the book one or two times together before using it as a topic of discussion. What’s important is talking together, not forcing a conversation or expecting that reading the book will explain it’s hidden meanings to your child in place of a conversation with you. 

Wherever there is a “________” you may insert the name of the loved one you’ve recently lost.

You don’t need to use all these suggestions, just what feels right for this moment or the family member you’re reading with.

Discussion Pages 1 & 2

“That fish look sad. It’s okay to feel sad when we miss someone the way we miss ________. You can always come talk to me when you feel this way.”

Pages 3 & 4

“How do you feel right now? You can always come talk to me when you feel this way.”

Page 5

“It’s okay to cry when you miss ________ and feel sad. You can always come talk to me when you feel this way.”

Long lasting sadness is typical during the Depression stage of grief which may strike your child repeatedly during their grief process. If you are concerned seek out the help of your primary care physician or school guidance counselor.

Page 6

“There may be times you feel angry that ________ died. You might feel angry for no reason or you might even feel angry at ________. Both are normal ways to feel. You can always come talk to me when you feel this way.”

Anger has its own stage in the grief process. Your child may experience Anger multiple times during their grief process. If you are concerned seek out the help of your primary care physician or school guidance counselor. When your child does feel angry there are suggestions for ways to express their Anger in healthy ways in this kit’s Activities Guide.

Pages 7 & 8

“Wanting time alone or not feeling like talking is something we all go through. You can always come talk to me when you feel this way.”

Feeling quiet or seeking out isolation is typical during the Depression stage of grief which may strike your child repeatedly during their grief process. If you are concerned seek out the help of your primary care physician or school guidance counselor.

Pages 9 & 10

“When someone dies we can feel like we’re a totally different person. Sometimes every day, sometimes from minute to minute. It’s not pleasant but it is normal. You can always come talk to me when you feel this way.”

Feeling quiet or seeking out isolation is typical during the Depression stage of grief which may strike your child repeatedly during their grief process. If you are concerned seek out the help of your primary care physician or school guidance counselor.

Pages 11 & 12

“Do you ever feel like this? If you do I want you to come and talk to me, okay?”

Lack of appetite and sleep can be typical during the Depression stage of grief which may strike your child repeatedly during their grief process. If you are concerned seek out the help of your primary care physician or school guidance counselor.

Pages 13 & 14

"Trying to stop thinking about ________ dying or pretending it didn’t happen for a while are both okay. It doesn’t mean you love ________ any less. You can always come talk to me when you feel this way.”

Both of these coping strategies are common during both the Bargaining stage and the Acceptance stage of grief which may strike your child repeatedly during their grief process. If you are concerned seek out the help of your primary care physician or school guidance counselor.

Pages 15 & 16

“There’s a lot about death that’s confusing. Do you have any questions for me or anyone else? You can always come talk to me when you have questions.”

If you don’t know the answers to your child’s questions you can write them down to figure out later. Children experiencing death and the grieving process may ask the same questions over and over again. This is common during the Denial phase of grief. Repeating their questions is how children make sense of trauma, the repeated information they receive will ground them in the reality of trauma and allow them to process death in a healthy way.

Pages 17 - 20

“Even after you feel better there may still be times you miss ________. That’s okay and may happen for a long time. You can always come talk to me when you feel like that.”

“Feeling better” is common during the Acceptance stage of the grieving process.

Pages 21 & 22

Sharing memories can make you and your child feel close to ________ again.

“Can you tell me any stories about your special time with ________?” “Did ________ teach you anything?”

Pages 23 & 24

“We can do a lot of different things to make ourselves feel better. Talking, sharing stories, and being creative are all things to make us feel better. What else can we do to feel better?”

These activities are indicative of the Acceptance stage of the grieving process which your child may experience numerous times during their grieving process.

Page 25

Your child may hear a variety of theories about what happens after we die from people trying to help. Let your child know what you believe but also that it’s alright for people to have differing viewpoints. Let your child know that if they have questions they can always come to you to ask them.

Page 26

“No matter what, the love that you and _________ shared will always be with you. Just like my love for you.”

Pages 27 - 29

“I will always love you and want to hold you tight! How many other people can we think of who love you?” 

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