Difficult Conversations – How to discuss grief and loss with children

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon several years ago and I had nothing to do that appealed to me.  My daughter was cramming for Year 12 exams and my husband had a deadline for work. The dogs would have loved a walk, but the sheets of rain coming down drove me inwards.  I had recently completed an online writing course and sat down thinking I would just write for a bit.  What started that day was the tiniest seed of book that I will soon present to the world.

About the book:

‘Ollie and the Starchaser’ is an adventure story set in Broome, Australia.  It subtly explores grief and loss for children aged 8 to 12.

It’s hard for adults to talk about grief and loss, which makes it even harder for us to talk to children about how they may be feeling when losing a loved one or even a pet. Young children may not have the language to express their feelings, but they still feel them.  I thought that creating an adventure story with subtle undertones of the theme of grief or loss could provide a scaffolding for such a conversation. Not wanting to be preachy or moralistic, I also wanted the book to appeal to children who may not have encountered loss but who enjoy an adventure story that has dogs, space travel and family as its main themes.

I have deliberately steered clear of religious connotations and have created a book that can be used to discuss loss whether you believe you are energy that has to return somewhere, or you believe in an afterlife.

So what’s it really about – here’s the blurb:

Nanoo is Ollie’s beloved grandmother and an astronomer who discovered the planet Terenza, in a gentle galaxy east of the moon. When Nanoo disappears on a trip to the Outback, Ollie cannot accept that she is gone. He is worried, sad and refuses to believe that Nanoo would leave him. He feels helpless sitting around on his farm with only his faithful Labrador, Chloe, to listen to his feelings. However, his luck changes when the Starchaser and his Star-fordshire Terrier, Buddy, plot a way to get to Earth from Terenza. The boys and their dogs begin an epic adventure to find Nanoo. Their journey takes them across the Outback, up the Steps to the Moon and into space. But will Ollie find her, and will he bring her home?

What’s next:

The creation of the book has had many twists and turns.  There were things I did not know that day I sat down escaping the rain – that my daughter would complete Year 12, finish a degree in Psychology and then become the artist who has illustrated the book. Neither that a holiday in Broome would become central to the story development nor that I would learn a huge amount from getting a book into the world. And now I am planning workshops to help parents have difficult conversations with their children.  All that from a rainy Sunday.

If you are interested in building resilience in either yourself or your children look out for my posts in the coming months and of course, I’ll let you know when the book is ready. I am so excited to bring this project to the world.

#grief #loss #family #ollieandthestarchaser #life #resilience #strongchildren #maketheworldabetterplace

Illustration credit: Jess Southey