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Grief Resources for Children Under Three

  • 1.  Grief Resources for Children Under Three

    Posted 12-02-2022 04:43 PM

    I am retired, most recently as a community college English professor. Before those years, I was in Early Childhood Education for several years, professionally as the Director of a relatively small preschool that was part of a church's community outreach program. We were one of the programs to be accredited when Accreditation was still very new. I also spent 13 years at home with young children of my own, able to afford the privilege of being an at-home mom by choice. Part of that privilege, for me, was the opportunity to devour every book about child development I could buy or borrow (repeatedly) from the three libraries we frequented. That education is what ultimately qualified me to be the Director of the preschool. This is just to explain why I'm here. My grandson, 15 months old, has revived my desire to find out all I can about child development today. My son spent the first year as an at-home fulltime father. They have a beautiful bond that I love to watch at work.

    OK--to my question. I have begun thinking about grief in very young children recently because of some family tragedies I've read about or heard about on the news. I am also a writer, still working to be published, but, hey, I've only been intentionally working at writing every day for a few months. The novel I am working on explores the grief process for the five children (from 9 yrs. to 7 weeks) and the aunt who "inherits" them, reluctantly at first. I've explored children's literature for some outstanding books about grief, some for toddlers and preschoolers. But I am not finding much information about the psychology and sociology of the grief process for toddlers and preschoolers. I want to be certain I am presenting that part of the novel accurately. One of the major characters is a 3 yrs. old boy who is very verbal and intensely emotional. He is having a very hard time figuring out what to do, think, put words to, etc. about the freak accidental death of both parents caused by a grieving drunk driver. The little boy has deep, racking, sobbing "grief attacks," as his aunt calls them, which I want to describe accurately. Do any of you know about any resources (books, articles, etc.) to help me get this done "right." It is fiction, but I don't want to gloss over or present a child's grief process inaccurately. One of the book's themes is the rough and bumpy grief journey one must get through to begin returning to a relatively normal life. I want the novel to carry a realistic and believable experience for the children and their aunt who is totally without parental experience.

    Or has anyone worked with grieving children in your daycare setting?

    I will of course document any resources I use to educate myself for writing this book. And I will definitely document to this Discussion Board.
    Peggy Fish-Oliver



    ------------------------------
    Peggy Oliver
    Retired English Professor
    San Jacinto College Retiree, Houston, TX
    Ankeny IA
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Grief Resources for Children Under Three

    Posted 12-08-2022 10:18 AM
    First, thank you for your endeavor. It's much needed, and there's not much out there.  Since your characters are from 7 weeks to 9 years, what is the age group your readers would be in?  That's the main question to answer before most of the other things get put in. Is this for adults to serve as background to help them? Is it for 1 or 2 of the age groups of the children?  Nearly 20 years ago, when my husband suddenly died, it was hard to explain it to the grandchildren.  I wrote a book and it got some VERY nice comments, but no publishers would publish it for many reasons.  If your book is for adults, I suggest you have a chapter of how to deal with the awful comments that well-meaning adults say - both to children or to adults.  When my husband was dead 1 day and the funeral was the next day, I went to religious services.  A woman came over, sat down next to me and said, I was going to be okay because her cousin, who had a long and unhappy marriage and then a marriage to a wonderful, loving man who suddenly died, married again and is very happy.  She assured me it would happen to me as well.  How dare she when my beloved was not yet in the ground???  Or may he rest in peace - so when will he wake up from his nap?  My granddaughter wrote a letter to him which she gave me to keep safe so when he comes back, he can see it first thing.  Children get all sorts of ideas from adults, and it just makes it so much harder for them and the adults who are trying to help them.
    I did give some presentations at a few conferences on the topic which were well received, but many people said they were dealing with too much and couldn't bear to come to that presentation.
    Right now, I'm grieving the death of my first childhood friend, and I have better and worse days.  Children don't usually understand that their emotions can swing, and that it's okay to laugh and still miss their loved one.
    Sorry to ramble, and wishing you luck with this important project.


    ------------------------------
    Ellen Cogan, MS Ed - Owner, Chief Consultant - HILLTOP Early Childhood SERVICES
    NYS Early Learning Credentialed Trainer
    NYS Master Cadre, Pyramid Model
    Implementation Planner, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership
    www.earlychildinfo.com
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Grief Resources for Children Under Three

    Posted 12-09-2022 11:31 AM
    Thank you both, Ellen and Peggy. I'm an Early Childhood Educator and come upon grief with children many times too many. My question is for Ellen. I am interested in your book that was never published. Do you have any for sale.? I would be interested in purchasing one.

    Heather Natonabah
    Hanaadli FACE Program
    Bloomfield, NM

    ------------------------------
    Heather Natonabah
    Preschool teacher
    Hanaadli FACE Center-base Program
    Farmington NM
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Grief Resources for Children Under Three

    Posted 12-09-2022 01:03 PM
    Dear Heather,
    Thank you for your interest. It's somewhere on my computer, not having been looked at for several years.  I'll have to look at it again, see if I still think it's worthy of publication, and then think of what to do with it.  Part of my original problem is that while I have lots of skills, drawing is not among them.  I paid someone to make the pictures, but I really didn't like the way they looked, so all I have are the words. I know it needs pictures, and I even wrote what I wanted them to look like.
    Your question piqued my interest.  I'll get back to you, perhaps next week or so.

    ------------------------------
    Ellen Cogan, MS Ed - Owner, Chief Consultant - HILLTOP Early Childhood SERVICES
    NYS Early Learning Credentialed Trainer
    NYS Master Cadre, Pyramid Model
    Implementation Planner, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership
    www.earlychildinfo.com
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Grief Resources for Children Under Three

    Posted 12-09-2022 01:09 PM
    Ok thank you.


    hn

    ------------------------------
    Heather Natonabah
    Preschool teacher
    Hanaadli FACE Center-base Program
    Farmington NM
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Grief Resources for Children Under Three

    Posted 12-10-2022 08:48 PM
    Heather, I am so happy that you asked Ellen about her book. Someone should see it and help her revise or edit as needed and to find help for illustrations. Publishers most likely would be willing to include that in the publishing process if they are interested. It may take a while, but surely someone may be interested.

    I've found a few very good, I think, picture books that explain death simply as just as all things alive in nature do people also die eventually, usually when very old. Then they describe death as happening when the heart stops beating, the nose cannot breathe, the mouth cannot talk, legs cannot walk, etc. Then they all are rather general about the soul / spirit and where it goes. I think each book leaves that fairly open in order to fit with a good variety of religious and spiritual beliefs of individual families.

    As I wrote (forever) to Ellen, I think I'll need to find access to a college /university library to access excellent scholarly journal articles and book titles I've found. That should be easily done at Iowa State, only 30 minutes away. I think I just need to ask for access as an Iowa taxpayer. I will soon find out. My heart will be palpitating at the chance for some good old scholarly library research. I know, I'm a bit strange, but I love researching just about anything if I have the library for it.

    Happy Holidays to all! Thanks for any ongoing information and suggestions anyone may be able to add here. I am immensely grateful.
    Peggy

    ------------------------------
    Peggy Oliver
    Retired English Professor
    San Jacinto College Retiree, Houston, TX
    Ankeny IA
    ------------------------------