Whether there is a specific experience (for example, your child attends a funeral, a pet passes away, etc.) or just a general part of development, tiny humans often become curious about death around age 5. And they are often more open to discussing it than you are, we are all quite aware and fearful of our own mortality. I find, little voices are most curious about these huge topics right as you kiss them goodnight.
So I decided to find some books that broach this topic, so we could read them together, when these questions arise. One book I'd like to share with you all is “Cry Heart, But Never Break” by Glenn Ringtved. It is a beautifully written and illustrated ‘children's book’ that I believe most adults will get a lot out of. The premise of it is best described by Brain Pickings.
“This warmly wistful story begins outside the “small snug house” where four children live with their beloved grandmother. Not wanting to scare the young ones, Death, who has come for the old lady, has left his scythe by the door. Immediately, in this small and enormously thoughtful gesture, we are met with Death’s unexpected tenderness.
Inside, he sits down at the kitchen table, where only the youngest of the kids, little Leah, dares look straight at him.
What makes the book particularly touching, thanks to Pardi’s immensely expressive illustration, is just how crestfallen — broken, even — Death himself looks the entire time he is executing his mission, choked up with some indiscernible fusion of resignation and recompense.”
Watch below to view a reading of an excerpt from “Cry Heart, But Never Break”.
Beyond reading a book together, here are some tips for discussing death with children.
If you are looking for support in connecting with your children, please reach out to a parent educator, such as myself, or if you need extra assistance processing during a difficult time; a counsellor, or therapist.
Lots of love,