coping with grief and loss: 2 Articles

Coping with Grief and Loss: An Interview Remembering Ethan’s Author

Magination Press recently interviewed author Lesléa Newman, about her experience writing Remembering Ethan, a book about how a family copes with grief and loss. Remembering Ethan was illustrated by Tracy Bishop. Children reading the book may realize that they are not the only ones who have ever lost a sibling and there is comfort in that. Magination Press: You are a beloved and award-winning writer who sometimes tackles tough or groundbreaking—even sometimes controversial—topics in your books for children. How do you find your topics?  Lesléa Newman: There is no lack of topics, considering the world in which we live is full of joy and sorrow. I look around and wait for something to tug at my heart. MP: What inspired you to write Remembering Ethan? LN: I was inspired by three things: There was a list, composed  by librarians, of topics that weren’t being covered in picture books. Death of a sibling was one of those topics.  I have a friend whose very young daughter died. She said the hardest thing, among many hard things, was telling her son that his sister wasn’t coming home from the hospital. The character Sarah was inspired by Judy Shepard, who works tirelessly to make sure her son Matthew, who was murdered in 1998, will never be forgotten. MP: What is Remembering Ethan about? LN: The book is about grief and how one family unites to remember and mourn a tremendous loss. MP:  What have reader responses been?  LN:  Tears. Lots and lots of tears. MP:  What was unexpected about the writing process? LN:  I didn’t expect the character of Ethan, who died before the book begins, to come alive as much as he did on the page. MP:  How do you see Remembering Ethan being useful to kids? LN:  I think the book can comfort a child going through the same situation. Children reading the book may realize that they are not the only ones who have ever lost a sibling and there is comfort in that.  MP:  What did the illustrator bring to the story that brought depth or unexpected insights into your story? LN:  The illustrator, Tracy Bishop, did such a beautiful job! I especially appreciate how Sarah is wearing Ethan’s watch throughout the story. That keeps him close to her. I can almost hear the ticking of the watch as similar to the beating of a heart. MP:  Do you have a favorite part of Remembering Ethan or was there a section that was especially challenging to write? LN:  Handling Ethan’s death was particularly difficult. I spent a long time thinking about the way he died, and then decided not to be specific about that. My favorite part of the book is the next to last page when the family is all sitting together, remembering, feeling their sadness, and offering each other comfort. MP:  Was Remembering Ethan your first book to be vetted by a psychologist? If so, what was that process like for you? LN:  I believe it

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Coping with Grief and Loss: An Interview Remembering Ethan’s Author 2020-07-28T14:25:46-04:00

Helping Children Find Their Light in Dark and Scary Times

Fear can be debilitating for children, especially when it arises from a situation such as parental illness or another major change that increases their vulnerability. The COVID-19 pandemic has created this situation for many families and children.  In her note to parents and caregivers, Ani’s Light author, Dr. Tanu Shree Singh provides guidance about supporting a child through difficult situations with empathy, caring, and honesty. Honest matters. Our first instinct in a difficult situation might be to protect our child by keeping the truth from them or creating tall tales.Though we assume they won’t  understand, hiding the truth rarely helps. Children have a built-in lie detector, so it’s best not to lie to your child or hide basic information. Whatever the situation, share information in age-appropriate words. There are many books that deal with all sorts of difficult topics, including illness, loss, divorce, and more. These can be a great starting point for conversation. It is ok not to know the answers. Some questions have no clear answers, but don’t avoid them. It is okay to not know, and even better to address and accept the uncertainty together. As a parent, sometimes we overwhelm ourselves with the need to give factual answers. However, questions around death and uncertainty might have no clear answers. To accept that with your child is to take a step closer to healing. Help your child deal with their emotions. Acceptance of emotions is an important part of healing and promoting resilience. Let your child know all emotions are acceptable. It is also essential for them to know that bad things can happen in life and it is no one’s fault. Learning to cope and manage our feelings is what makes the difference.  Routines are important. Routines give a sense of security to a child. A consistent schedule and familiar faces create a sense of normalcy. Stick to regular patterns, from bedtime to school routines, as much as you can. Everyone is creating new daily routines during the pandemic. Do what works for your family. Plan for fun. Children need a break. Sometimes we get so caught up in managing problems that we forget that children need doses of fun. Try to schedule some fun time together. Seek help. Life gets overwhelming when illness or huge changes are taking up all our time and energy. In such situations, such as those created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be vigilant and seek professional help as needed.  Ultimately, the heart and mind have an enormous capacity to heal. All we can do as a parent is to be there and help our children learn to see love, grow resilience, and be reassured that letting the light in can help them through dark times. To find a therapist near you, use the APA Psychologist Locator.

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Helping Children Find Their Light in Dark and Scary Times 2020-05-06T11:42:08-04:00