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  • Debbie Thrower

Putting grief in the picture - a book to help give children a frame of reference


Overcoming grief


Have you come across this book yet? As well as being a charming read, it would help a child (and their parent) deal with loss and grief, especially if the youngster has lost a grandparent.


The author of If all the world were... (Lincoln Children's Books, 2019) is Joseph Coelho and the illustrations are by Allison Colpys. Here's a clip of Joseph talking about the importance of writing and drawing in such situations.

I was introduced to Joseph Coelho's work (writes Debbie Thrower) by Dr Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive of Scottish Care, when he delivered the prestigious Malcolm Goldsmith lecture for charity Faith in Older People earlier this year on the topic of human rights, spirituality and older people, The fullness of humanity. He spoke about his own grandmother who had taught him certain lasting truths about our spiritual natures.


'My late grandmother was a storyteller – and she never wrote a word down – for her truth was always told, insight was always heard, mystery was always seen, love was always felt. We never really talked about human rights but when I asked her why she never wrote things down, she said she had never discovered paper which didn’t trap the words. Human rights and the world of spirituality are not strangers detached from embrace, they are rather partners in human loving, and I have no doubt my grandmother would have seen a veil as thin as gossamer between the two. I have equally no doubt that she would have loved the poetry of the human rights activist Joseph Coelho, whose spiritual insights I leave you with...'


You can read his full speech here.


He closed by giving Coelho's poem If all the world were paper. Some of the themes in that poem are explored in this book of a similar title. A child who enjoys a good relationship with their grandfather or grandmother and misses them when they are no longer around might need help in expressing their emotions.


Reading the book, or having it read to them by a loving adult, and then being encouraged to draw, paint or jot down words about how they are feeling... can be a real aid in the grief process. Indeed, that's true at whatever age.



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