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Books on bereavement


for children, teenagers and parents


By My Side: stories of parents whose child has died from cancer

By My Side shares the experiences, feelings and opinions of bereaved parents - in their own words. Mothers and fathers speak from the heart about the things only other bereaved parents can truly understand. By My Side also provides insight and gentle guidance for family and friends.
Redkite offers By My Side to bereaved parents to keep, free of charge. To order, contact us at
 One Day at a Time series

One day at a time

Adapted from the publications by CLIC Sargent, the UK's leading cancer charity for children, young people and their families, this series uses the real experiences and advice of bereaved parents to support other parents and carers through bereavement. The series includes: 

Redkite offers the One Day at a Time series to keep, free of charge. To order copies, contact us at

Guided Imagery for Healing Children and Teens Curran

Guided Imagery for Healing Children and Teens: Wellness Through Visualization, Ellen Curran

Their own naturally rich imaginations are one of the best resources for healing children or helping them through difficult times. Guided Imagery for Healing Children and Teens shows parents, caregivers, and wellness practitioners how to tap into this powerful source of healing to help children overcome the pain and discomfort of anything from a minor fever to cancer. This easy-to-use manual includes an explanation of mind-body medicine and imagery, real-life case studies from the author's experience, and much rich, scripted imagery for both the younger child and teenager. Equipped with these valuable tools, children can connect with their self-healing abilities, strengthen their self-esteem, and enjoy their own imaginations!
Helping Teens Work Through Grief

Helping Teens Cope with Death, The Dougy Center for Grieving Children

This practical guide covers the unique grief responses of teenagers and the specific challenges they face when grieving a death. You will learn how death impacts teenagers and ways that you can help them. The book also offers advice from parents and caregivers of bereaved teens on how to support adolescents and how to determine when professional help is needed.

Helping Teens Work Through Grief, Mary Kelly Perschy

This book is a valuable guide, helping adults connect with grieving teens. The reader will find background information along with many specific activities to help teens reflect upon and talk about their particular concerns. Issues of grief are introduced through drawing, molding clay, painting, movement, writing, listening to music, as well as talking in pairs and as a group. In addition, new activities incorporate the various dimensions of the grieving process with audio-visual materials and the Internet.
When a Friend Dies Gootman

When a Friend Dies: A Book For Teens About Grieving & Healing, Marilyn Gootman

Recommended for grieving teens, their parents and educators, this book reaches out to every one with wisdom and compassion. The death of a friend is a wrenching event at any age, but teenagers especially need help coping with the pain of loss. This sensitive book offers gentle advice for any teen by answering questions grieving teens often have, including "How can I stand the pain?" "How should I be acting?" 


 When Dinosaurs Die; A Guide to Understanding Death Brown 

When Dinosaurs Die; A Guide to Understanding Death, Brown and Brown

Explains in simple language the feelings people may have regarding the death of a loved one and the ways to honour their memory. Suitable for ages 5-8.


Unlike many books on death for little ones, this book doesn't tell a story. Instead, it addresses children's fears and curiosity head-on, and in a largely secular fashion, by answering some very basic questions: "Why does someone die?" "What does dead mean?" "What comes after death?" Other questions deal with emotions, and there's a section about death customs.


“I would recommend this book to any family dealing with loss.” - Redkite Social Worker.

 The Invisible String Karst 

The Invisible String, Patrice Karst

The Invisible String offers a simple approach to overcoming the fear of loneliness or separation. A warm and delightful lesson reminding children (and adults!) that we are loved beyond anything we can imagine.


“A really lovely way to introduce continuing bonds and connections with loved ones, with bereavement or any separation that a child may experience.” - Redkite Social Worker.

 Beginnings and Endings with Lifetimes in Between 

Beginings and Endings with Lifetimes In Between, Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen

A children's book that explains death by presenting life as having a beginning and an end, with an appropriate lifetime in between. The length of this lifetime varies according to the type of living thing and is affected by illness and injury.


“Offers a good insight into life and death and introduces the concept of different journeys for everyone.” - Redkite Social Worker.

 Gentle Willow A Story About Children Dying Mills 

Gentle Willow, a Story for Children About Dying, Joyce Mills

Written for children who may not survive their illness or for children who know them, this tender and touching tale helps address feelings of disbelief, anger, and sadness, along with love and compassion.


“Explains loss to children in a gentle way.” - Redkite Social Worker.

 The Kissing Hand Penn 

The Kissing Hand, Audrey Penn

School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. The Kissing Hand addresses separation anxiety and is a great resource at the beginning of the school year, or in any situation where a child must separate from parents.

 What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies? Romain 

What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?, Trevor Romain

When someone dies, adults are often involved with their own loss and grief and not as available to children as they might otherwise be. This little book, full of concrete advice and expressive illustrations, offers the comfort and reassurance that children need during these difficult times. Written to and for kids, it’s also recommended for parents and other relatives, educators, counsellors, and youth workers.
 When I Miss You Spelman 

When I Miss You, Cornelia Spelman and Kathy Parkinson

Young children often experience anxiety when they are separated from their mothers or fathers. This title features a young guinea pig who expresses her distress when her mother and father go to work or on a trip. She learns ways to be comforted, and that her parents will return.
 Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Children 

Waterbugs and Dragonflys; Explaining Death to Children, Doris Stickney

How can we answer the many questions young children have about death? This book uses the analogy of the waterbugs' short life under water as human's time on earth and their emergence as dragonflies into the bright sunlit world above the water as human's life after death. It is designed to provide adults with the opportunity to talk about death as being part of the life cycle, which can be a reassuring way of explaining death to children.

 I Miss You A First Look at Death Thomas 

I Miss You - a First Look at Death, Pat Thomas

When a close friend or family member dies, it can be difficult for children to express their feelings. This book helps boys and girls understand that death is a natural component to life, and that grief and a sense of loss are normal feelings for them to have following a loved one's death. Titles in this sensitively presented series explore the dynamics of various relationships experienced by children of preschool through early school age.
 The Tenth Good Thing About Barney Viorst 

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, Judith Viorst

A young boy tells us, "My cat Barney died last Friday. I was very sad." Barney's mother suggests he think of ten good things to tell about Barney at his funeral. The story details his feelings and, from his perspective, the way his parents and friend Annie deal with the loss, ritual of burial and questions of afterlife (heaven, Barney's whereabouts now).
 What's Dead Mean How to Help Children Cope with Death Zagdanski 

What's Dead Mean? How to Help Children Cope with Death, D Zagdanski

What's Dead Mean? is a true activity book specially written to help children cope with death. This outstanding work combines drawing and pasting with facilitated talking to help parents teachers child care workers or indeed anyone faced with the challenge of communicating this vital and often neglected message to the young. At traumatic times it can be difficult to find the words to say and to overcome the grief of the situation to be present for the hurting child.






Book Club - The Little Book of Loss & Grief


The Little Book of Loss & Grief You Can Read while You Cry, Liz Crowe

This book is filled with simple and thoughtful messages and beautiful illustrations that will help support and guide readers during their grief. It is the ideal companion for self-healing, care and understanding. While designed for adults, this book is accessible to people of all ages, including children and people with a range of literacy levels. Easy to pick up and read, it will have readers returning to its pages again and again for comfort and reassurance. 




Book Club: Beyond Words: Grieving when your child has died


Beyond Words: Grieving when your child has died, Andrew Thomson and Tricia Irving Hendry

Many bereaved parents say that the only people who can ever genuinely begin to understand what it’s like for them are other bereaved parents. Hearing from others who have ‘been there’ can make all the difference. For this reason, 'Beyond Words-Grieving when your child has died' is a handbook that features the honest words, perspectives and suggestions of many bereaved parents. It offers useful information about managing grief, support options and ideas that may be helpful on the grief journey. It is comforting, encouraging, informative and practical. It will also provide understanding and insights to professionals and others seeking to effectively support bereaved parents.




What Does Dead Mean? A Book for Young Children to Help Explain Death and Dying


What Does Dead Mean? A Book for Young Children to Help Explain Death and Dying, Caroline Jay and Jenni Thomas 

This is beautifully illustrated book that guides children gently though 17 of the 'big' questions they often ask about death and dying. Questions such as 'Is being dead like sleeping', 'Why do people have to die?' and 'Where do dead people go?' are answered simply, truthfully and clearly to help adults explain to children what happens when someone dies. 




The Memory Garden: Iris' Story 

Iris is a nine year old girl who enjoys playing soccer and spending time with her family. Iris is also terminally ill. In this book, we learn how Iris copes with being sick and show she deals with sadness and loss. We also learn how Iris' family will keep the memory of her with them forever. 
The Memory Garden_Hazel's Story. 

The Memory Garden: Hazel's Story

Hazel’s big sister, Iris, is terminally ill. This is a story about Hazel and how she copes with Iris’ illness. Hazel experiences many of the common feeling siblings go through when they have a brother or sister who is sick. Along with Hazel, we learn how to manage feelings of grief and sadness and how we can keep our happy memories close to us.

The Memory Garden_Leo's Story 

The Memory Garden: Leo's Story

Leo is a 12 year old boy whose little sister, Iris, is sick. When Leo begins to realise that Iris is not going to get better, he experiences a range of different emotions. In this book, we learn that it can be better to express our emotions, even the difficult ones like anger, sadness and grief. We also learn how Iris’ family will keep the memory of her with them forever.




workbooks on bereavement

 What About the Kids Understanding Funeral Planning Dougy Center 

What About the Kids? Understanding Their Needs in Funeral Planning, The Dougy Center

This book addresses the best practices for funeral and memorial services with children and teens. Learn how to include children in these rituals and creative ways to involve them in the process. You will find suggestions from children and teens about what was helpful and unhelpful about the funeral or memorial service they attended.
 Beyond the Rainbow Heegard 

Beyond the Rainbow: A Workbook for Children in the Advanced Stages of a Very Serious Illness, Marge Heegard Eaton

An art therapy book which helps children cope with a life-threating illness. Children are encouraged to express in pictures what they are often incapable of expressing in words.
 Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine, Crossley 

Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine; Your Activity Book to Help When Someone Has Died, Winston's Wish

This book offers a structure and an outlet for the many difficult feelings which inevitably follow when someone dies. It aims to help children make sense of their experience by reflecting on the different aspects of their grief, whilst finding a balance between remembering and having fun.

 Help Me Say Goodbye, Silverman 

Help Me Say Goodbye Book: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies, Janice Silverman

An art therapy and activity book to help children cope with the death of a special person. Includes exercises to address the questions and fears children may have. Sensitive exercises address all the questions children may have during this emotional and troubling crisis. Children are encouraged to express in pictures what they are often incapable of expressing in words.
 When Someone Very Special Dies 

When Someone Very Special Dies, Marge Eaton 

 A workbook to help children work out feelings about death. Heegaard provides a practical format for allowing children to understand the concept of death and develop coping skills for life. 
 35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child 

35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child, The Dougy Center

If you know a child or teen who has experienced a death, this guidebook presents you with simple and practical suggestions for how to support him or her. Learn what behaviors and reactions to expect from children at different ages, ways to create safe outlets for children to express their thoughts and feelings and how to be supportive during special events such as the memorial service, anniversaries and holidays.
 Helping Children Cope with Death, The Dougy Center 

Helping Children Cope with Death, The Dougy Center

This guidebook offers a comprehensive, easy-to-read overview of how children grieve and strategies to support them. Based on The Dougy Center’s work with thousands of grieving children and their families, you will learn how children understand death, how to talk with children about death at various developmental stages, how to be helpful and when to seek outside help. This book is useful for parents, teachers, helping professionals and anyone trying to support a grieving child.
 Michael Rosen's Sad Book 

Michael Rosen's Sad Book, Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake

We all have sad stuff - maybe you have some right now, as you read this. What makes Michael Rosen most sad is thinking about his son, Eddie, who died. In this book he writes about his sadness, how it affects him and some of the things he does to try to cope with it. Whether or not you have known what it's like to feel really deeply sad, its truth will surely touch you.


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We’ve chosen a wide range of books to cover as many different themes, situations, beliefs and stories as possible. The opinions, recommendations and stories expressed are those of the authors only. They don’t necessarily represent the views of Redkite.


While a great deal of the information in Book Club books is helpful, none of it replaces the information given to you by your hospital. If you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with your treating hospital team. 


These books come from a number of different countries and don’t always reflect the medical practices in Australia.

Last updated September 2015.