Sunday 22 November 2015

When Something Terrible Happens : Children Can Learn To Cope With Grief

This post includes affiliate links. See my disclosure here

Written by Marge Heegard to be illustrated by children
Woodlands Press 1991

Back of Book:
Terrible things happen to children. Traumatic events in the lives of their families, their friends or in the world leave children feeling confused, insecure and frightened. Some things happen in nature like floods and earthquakes. People, also cause violence and trauma.This book is designed to help children understand and cope with overwhelming feelings from loss and change. Creating art provides a method for expressing feelings children are unable to understand or express verbally. Drawing a fearful event puts the drawer in charge and presents an opportunity to overcome feelings of helplessness and fear.

More from Missus B....

About the book
'When Something Terrible Happens' is from a series called 'Drawing Out Feelings.' The book aims to provide parents or professionals with a support tool in helping children cope with grief. 
While of course this is not a typical picture book, I like that it uses some imagery to generate thinking, while encouraging the child to use drawing as a way of expressing their inner thoughts and feelings. 
The book is  pretty much a work book and in the opening pages, the author suggests that a child can use the book once a week for approximately an hour and a half. If appropriate, workbooks could be used with a group or even a family who need support around the same issue. 
The opening pages provide adults with lots of information. There are 6 main sections to the book:
  • Sudden Change & Loss
  • Grief: A Natural Reaction to Loss
  • Learning about Feelings
  • Drawing out Difficult Feelings
  • Soothing Painful Memories
  • Growing Stronger
Heegaard, a Clinical Social Worker, Art Therapist & Grief Counsellor, explains how each category addresses grief and supports emotions. She also provides a suggested reading list for children, parents or professionals with books like:
 I Was So Mad (Little Critter) (Look-Look) 
Scary Night Visitors: A Story for Children with Bedtime Fears

There is a full page outlining the many ways family members can help a child, as well as information for children. The author explains how to use the book saying:

I think you will find it easier to draw about some things than it is to talk about them. This is your book and you can decide what you want to do. Some of the pages may seem difficult to do at first. You may decide to wait awhile to begin, but most children find that big ugly pictures in the mind seem less fearful when they are put on a small piece of paper. You are in charge of your book and your drawing.

Grief comes and goes like waves in the ocean.
There will be stormy times....
There will be calm times.....
Readers are encouraged to think about feelings and draw how they may be expressed on people's faces.
Children learn that feelings can be carried in the body and are encouraged to reflect on how anxiety can have a physical impact. Once when working on this page a child told me -' when I'm scared my legs feel wobbly and I have to go to my room to lie down.' We were then able to talk about other things she could do to help herself at such times.
To address nightmares, the author suggests drawing your 'scary dream' but also adding something or someone into the image to change it into a safe setting. 
There are tips for managing anger as well as a "Caring Circle" where the child adds the names of caring people in their life.

This book helps a child to identify and verbalize feelings, work through fears past or present and think about ways of coping. With adult support and this book, a child can learn to accept their feelings, build their confidence and feel reassured that life goes on after trauma or loss.

Those who live through terrible times will often be able to help others...and someday may do something to make the world a better place! Even terrible things can teach some good things like understanding, caring, courage and how to be O.K. during difficult times!

An excellent, therapeutic tool for children who need support with grief or trauma. 

Find the book at the below  affiliate links.

You may also be interested in the collection of books I have compiled on my 'Feelings/Emotions' Page
Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository                            

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