Your Other Children: Further Reading

From bereaved children:

1. Döveling, K. (2015). “Help me. I am so alone.” Online Emotional Self-disclosure in Shared Coping-processes of Children and Adolescents on Social Networking Platforms. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 40(4), 403-423. doi:10.1515/commun-2015-0018

Institut für Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft, Universität Leipzig, Germany

Losing a close relative or friend is a traumatic event for anyone, especially for children and adolescents. This article investigates the motives and patterns of children’s and adolescents’ interpersonal online communication on bereavement platforms. A qualitative content analysis of two different youth bereavement platforms (n = 21 threads; 319 postings) illuminates how one common feature is the verbalization and illustration of missing support in the offline world. The substantial usage of social network platforms can be considered an extension of children’s and adolescents’ personal social environment. Furthermore, topics on bereavement platforms ultimately go beyond grief, as children and adolescents also include emotions such as hope, gratitude and cohesiveness. Communication within online bereavement communities thus enables a process known from offline communication as transformation from a loss- oriented to restoration-oriented coping.

2. Kiev, M. (2014). My Sisters, the Butterflies. Teen Ink, 26(4), 24.

A personal narrative is presented which explores the author’s experience of losing two sisters to stillbirth, thinking of them as butterflies, playing together and watching out for each other.

3. Stanford, P. (2013). The Death of a Child. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. [Find in an Australian library]

The Death of a Child is a collection of a dozen essays in which parents and siblings tell their own stories of losing a child, brother or sister, and of how they have coped with bereavement and grief.

Contents include: Clare / Joanna Moorhead: “.. her sister, Clare, died…at the age of 3.” – Charles / Louise Patten: “Her brother, Charles, died …aged 10.”


Mid-term Break – by Seamus Heaney (“his [four year-old] brother, Christopher, …died in a car accident … when Seamus was fourteen. [link to poem read by the poet]

I sat all morning in the college sick bay

Counting bells knelling classes to a close.

At two o’clock our neighbours drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying –

He had always taken funerals in his stride –

And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram

When I came in, and I was embarrassed

By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were ‘sorry for my trouble’

Whispers informed strangers that I was the eldest,

Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.

At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived

With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops

And candles soothed the bedside I saw him

For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple.

He lay in a four foot box, as in his cot.

No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

Originally published in 1966. Among subsequent sources: Stanford, P. (ed.). (2011). The Death of a Child. London: Continuum.

For bereaved children:

4. Benjamin, A. (2015). The Thing about Jellyfish. [Find in an Australian library]

Summary: Twelve-year-old Suzy Swanson wades through her intense grief over the loss of her best friend by investigating the rare jellyfish she is convinced was responsible for her friend’s death. It’s peculiar how no-words can be better than words. How silence can say more than noise, or a person’s absence can occupy even more space than their presence did. Suzy is 12 when her best friend, Franny, drowns one summer at the beach. It takes two days for the news to reach Suzy, and it’s not something that she can accept: Franny has always been a strong swimmer, from the day they met in swim class when they were just 5. How can someone all of a sudden, just no longer be there? Suzy realizes that they must have got it wrong: Franny didn’t just drown - she was stung by a poisonous jellyfish. This makes a lot more sense to Suzy’s logical mind than a random drowning - cause: a jellyfish sting; effect: death. Suzy’s journey to acceptance is quiet - she resolves to either say something important, or say nothing at all. But it’s also bursting with bittersweet humour, heart-breaking honesty, big ideas and small details. (Ages 8-12)

5. Bettels-Hoffmann, G. & Morris, B. J., (illustrator.) (2015). Dreamy Belle’s Visit to heaven. Docklands, Vic. Jojo Publishing [find in an Australian library]

“The sun was shining brightly in Fairy Valley, but Dreamy Belle was not able to see it. This morning the sunshine had lost its beauty and warmth. Poor Dreamy Belle had just found out that her fairy sister, who was also her best friend, had passed over. Her heart felt very heavy.” Meet Dreamy Belle, a little fairy from Fairy Valley, and accompany her to the heavenly realms after the sad passing of her beloved fairy sister. Medium, spiritual healer and Reiki practitioner, Gabrielle Bettels-Hoffman, uses this gentle story to help parents and children who are experiencing difficulties while grieving by explaining the process of ‘passing over’ in a child-related and appropriate way. This is a ‘fairy story’ with a spiritual background and no religious influences.

6. Heath, J.(2015). How Children Grieve. In No Time for Tears : Coping with Grief in a Busy World (Revised and updated second edition). Chicago, Illinois Chicago Review Press [Find in an Australian library]

7. Smid, E. & Fiddelaers-Jaspers, R. (2015). Luna’s Red Hat: An Illustrated Storybook to Help Children Cope with Loss and Suicide. London, England Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers [find in an Australian library]

8. Pitcher, A. (2013). My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece. London: Indigo. Find in an Australian library

Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews has just moved to the Lake District with his Dad and his teenage sister, Jasmine for a ‘Fresh New Start’. Five years ago his sister’s twin, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb. His parents are wrecked by their grief, Jasmine turns to piercing, pink hair and stops eating. The family falls apart.

9. Kuipers, A. (2010). The Worst Thing she Ever Did. Millers Point, N.S.W.: Pier 9, Find in an Australian library Target Audience: Adolescent

Sixteen-year-old Sophie struggles to find normalcy after an incident she chooses not to remember took her sister’s life, and by keeping a journal, making a new friend, and seeing a therapist she finally begins to recover.

10. Reagan, J. & Pollema-Cahill, P. (ill.) (2009). Always my Brother. Tilbury House, Gardiner, Me. Find in an Australian library

Becky slowly returns to the activities she enjoyed with her big brother, John, after learning that he is still part of her family, even after his death.

11. White, L. (2007). Ethan. Brolga Publishing, [Melbourne]. Find in an Australian library

True story written through the eyes of a child on the loss of his baby brother (still born). Helps explain difficult topic using simple illustrations.

12. Edwards, N. & Child Bereavement Trust (2005). A Friend. London: Chrysalis Children’s Books. Find in an Australian library

13. Vercoe, E. & Abramowski, K. (2004). The Grief Book: Strategies for Young People. Fitzroy, Victoria: Black Dog Books. Find in an Australian library

14. Barber, E. (2003). Letters from a Friend: A Sibling’s Guide for Coping and Grief. Amityville, N.Y.: Baywood. Find in an Australian library

15. Edwards, N. & Child Bereavement Trust (2003). Saying Goodbye to a Brother or Sister. Chrysalis Children’s Books, London. Find in an Australian library

16. Wild, M. & Spudvilas, A. (2000). Jenny Angel. Ringwood, Vic.: Puffin. [Find in an Australian library]

“Jenny believes that she is a guardian angel who, by watching over her brother, will keep him from death.”

For families supporting bereaved children:

17. Jonas-Simpson, C., & Blin, C. (2015). Mothering Bereaved Children after Perinatal Death: Implications for Women’s and Children’s Mental Health in Canada. In Khanlou, Nazilla & Pilkington, F. Beryl (eds), Women’s Mental Health: Resistance and Resilience in Community and Society (Springer, 2015), 357.

Extract: very little research focuses specifically on mothering bereaved children. In my study on maternal bereavement (Jonas-Simpson, 2011 ), a major theme emerged: mothering bereaved children after perinatal death . This theme is reflected in my research-based documentary fi lm entitled, Why did baby die ?: Mothering children living with the loss , love and continuing presence of a baby sibling (Jonas Simpson, 2010b ). With an interest in exploring this theme further, I conducted a secondary in-depth analysis of the data supporting it. The purpose of this chapter is to present these findings. This chapter ends with a reflective poem that captures the core finding bereaved mothering after perinatal death entitled, Acquainted with Loss, by bereaved mother and infant loss volunteer, Carine Blin.

18. Rossetto, K. R. (2015). Bereaved Parents’ Strategies and Reactions when Supporting their Surviving Children. Western Journal of Communication, 1-22. doi:10.1080/10570314.2015.1079332

Communication Department, Boston College, Boston, MA, USA

Bereaved parent–child communication and support can significantly affect surviving children’s well-being and family functioning, yet offering support may be difficult for bereaved parents amidst their own distress. This study investigates parents’ strategies and reactions when supporting their surviving children following a child’s death. The results from 11 in-depth interviews outline bereaved parents’ support strategies (e.g., direct conversation, concealment, sharing space and time, enabling outside communication, commemoration) and positive and negative reactions. This study focused on support from the provider perspective, so implications for parental support and grief processes are discussed. Practical considerations for supporting surviving children are explored.

19. Shanker, S. (2015). Bereaved Parents’ Stories of their Emotional Relationship with their Surviving Children following the Death of Another. (PhD Thesis: University of Hertfordshire)

Background: The death of a child can be a devastating experience for many parents; research suggests it results in an intense and enduring grief which can negatively impact on parents’ psychological well-being. Parents with surviving children face the task of navigating their own grief and continuing to parent. Surviving children’s responses to the loss of a sibling is complex and sometimes problematic; it is suggested that family functioning is a key aspect of the sibling’s response. Psychological literature shows that sibling bereavement has been under-researched (Woodrow, 2007) with little attention given to the quality of the emotional relationship between parent and child, before and after sibling loss. Aims: Research to explore the stories of bereaved parents and how they experienced their emotional relationship with their surviving children after the death of another child can build on and expand existing literature; resulting in suggestions for clinical psychologist on how to better support surviving relationships at this difficult time. Methodology: Qualitative methods allow for richness, context and allow parents to tell stories of their emotional relationships with surviving children. Stories are the way in which we give order and meaning to the events in our lives (Gilbert, 2010). Consequently, a narrative analysis was viewed as the most epistemologically and ethically appropriate research method; and most appropriate to answer the research question. Analysis and Findings: Parents told stories of connection and disconnection in their emotional relationship with their surviving children after the death of another child in the family. Emotional connection and disconnection is influenced by the competing and potentially incompatible tasks of ‘parenting’ and ‘grieving’. Stories of connection with surviving children were constructed as ‘putting my living children first’ and ‘avoiding the fog’ of grief; these stories illustrated less connection to the deceased child and parental grief. Conversely, stories of disconnection with surviving children were constructed as getting ‘stuck in the fog’ of grief and ‘remembering’; these stories illustrated more connection to the deceased child and parental grief.

20. Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement. (2014). Children and Grief. Mulgrave, Vic.: Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement. Ephemera. [Full text]

Following the death of someone close, parents are often concerned about how to best support and meet the needs of their children. Like adults, children experience, express and process grief in a variety of ways depending on their age, stage of development, personality, family culture, understanding of death, past experiences of loss and the context of their bereavement. When considering how best to provide support, the child’s unique grieving needs should also be considered.

a. Pre-school, Ages Five and Under

This information sheet is designed to help parents and caregivers to understand and help pre-school-age children, i.e. aged five years and under, navigate their grief experience.

b. Primary School, Ages 6‒12

This information sheet is designed to help parents, caregivers and teachers to understand and help primary-school-aged children navigate their grief experience.

21. McKissock, M. & McKissock, D. (2012). Children and Grief. In Coping with Grief. (4th edn.). Crows Nest, N.S.W: ABC Books. [Find in an Australian library]

22. Young, C. & Dowling, T. (2012). Parents and Bereavement: A Personal and Professional Exploration of Grief. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Find in an Australian library

Grief is a very individual experience and it can impact all aspects of a person’s life. Parents and Bereavement: A Personal and Professional Exploration of Grief brings together latest research and practice from the pioneering children and young adults’ hospice - Helen and Douglas House, alongside the personal experience of a parent. The book includes information on a range of challenges faced by parents, including supporting surviving children, making challenging decisions about subsequent pregnancies, managing the impact of grief on relationships, and facing birthdays and anniversaries. It discusses both, the theories and the day-to-day experience of grief, and what might make a difference to how people manage it. This will be an invaluable resource for professionals involved in supporting families with end of life care and bereavement issues, including palliative care professionals, counsellors, and social workers. Parents and Bereavement will also help parents, family, and friends to understand and support each other through such loss.

23. Goldman, L. (2010). Great Answers to Difficult Questions about Death: What Children Need to Know. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London. Find in an Australian library

24. Stubbs, D. & Stokes, J. A. & Child’s Grief & Winston’s Wish (2009). A Child’s Grief: Supporting a Child when Someone in their Family has Died (4th ed.) Cheltenham: Winston’s Wish. Find in an Australian library

25. Zucker, R. (2009). The Journey through Grief and Loss: Helping Yourself and Your Child when Grief is Shared. St. Martin’s Griffin, New York. Find in an Australian library

Publisher’s description: When adults face a significant loss, they must grapple with their own profound grief, and they are often called upon to nurture and support their grieving children. This is the first book to address this very common dual grieving challenge. As a practicing psychotherapist for twenty-nine years, Robert Zucker can offer parents and other concerned readers important insights into managing their own grief while supporting their grieving children. He offers: • Understanding how adults and children grieve differently • Learning how to explain the meaning of death to children • Knowing what to do when grief gets complicated • Deciding when they and/or their child need counseling • Helping their family members stay connected with loved ones even after death. For the countless parents who have tried blocking out their own grief in order to be available to their child, Robert Zucker provides a measure of comfort. This book will reassure readers that a grieving parent can still be an effective parent.

26. Heaney, P. (2004). Children’s Grief: A Guide for Parents. Dunedin, N.Z.: Longacre. Find in an Australian library

“This book is a practical, straightforward guide to help adults talk to children about loss, grief, and death. It deals with the responses of all age groups - from birth to teens. Its respectful advice explains children’s needs, and will help readers support children when they are at their most vulnerable.”—BOOK COVER.

27. Fitzgerald, H. (2003). The Grieving Child: A Parent’s Guide (2nd ed). New York: Simon & Schuster. Find in an Australian library

28. Wakenshaw, M. (2003). Caring for your Grieving Child. London: New Harbinger. Find in an Australian library

29. Coloroso, B. (2000). Parenting through Crisis: Helping Kids in Times of Loss, Grief, and Change. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Find in an Australian library

30. Emswiler, M.A.& Emswiler, J. P. (2000). Guiding your Child through Grief. New York Bantam Books. Find in an Australian library

Guiding Your Child Through Grief, by the founders of the New England Center for Loss & Transition and The Cove, a highly praised program for grieving children, takes away the uncertainty and helpless feelings we commonly feel as we reach out to children who mourn. This caring and compassionate guide offers expert advice during difficult days to help a child grieve the death of a parent or sibling. Based on their experience as counselors—and as parents of grieving children—the authors help readers to understand:The many ways children grieve, often in secret, Changes in family dynamics after death—and straightforward, effective ways to ease the transition, Ways to communicate with children about death and grief, How to cope with the intense sorrow triggered by holidays, The signs grief has turned to depression—and where to find help, And more insights, information, and advice that can, help a child heal.

Academic recommended reading:

31. Auz, M. M & Andrews, M. L. (2015). How to Help Children Grieve the Death of a Sibling. In Handbook for those who Grieve : What you should Know and What you can Do during Times of Loss : A Resource for Family, Friends, Ministers, Caregivers, and Colleagues (Revised edition). Chicago, Illinois Loyola Press, A Jesuit Ministry [Find in an Australian library]

32. Volkan, V. D., & Zintl, E. (2015). Life after Loss: The Lessons of Grief. London: Karnac Books.

MD, Charlottesville, VI, USA

This book is a comprehensive guide to the mourning process by a world-recognized authority on grief. How we cope with grief and come to terms with the death of a loved one shapes our world. Dr Volkan shows how each mourning is as individualized as our fingerprints, encoded with our past history of losses. Anecdotal and compassionate, this is a profoundly moving and informative study of how grief and loss shape all our lives. [publisher’s blurb]

Among the contents: Chapter VIII - A Death in the Family: How Parents and Children Mourn.

33. Avelin, P., Gyllenswärd, G., Erlandsson, K., & Rådestad, I. (2014). Adolescents’ Experiences of having a Stillborn Half-Sibling. Death Studies, 38(6-10), 557–562. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2013.809034

Department of Women’s and Children’s Health , Karolinska Institutet , Stockholm , Sweden

Although there is an increasing interest in siblings’ experiences of loss and grief there is limited knowledge of adolescent’s own perspectives, especially in a unique situation as after stillbirth in a reconstituted family. The authors interviewed 13 bereaved adolescents. They were sad that their family was not the same and expressed feelings of being inside family grief, yet outside, because they did not have full access in their reconstituted family. An implication of present findings is that it is important to include all the members of the family in the grieving process, even half-siblings of the deceased child.

34. Frost, M. (2014). The Grief Grapevine: Facebook Memorial Pages and Adolescent Bereavement. Australian Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 24(2), 256-265. doi:10.1017/jgc.2013.30

St Andrews Lutheran College — Counselling, Tallebudgera, Queensland, Australia

How adolescents use the social networking site Facebook to express grief is a growing area of research. In reviewing current literature, it is evident that many questions still remain unanswered. Additionally, this ever-evolving platform for grief, mourning and bereavement may hold many implications for educators, policy developers and school counsellors and how they manage and support adolescents dealing with the sudden death of a peer. This article explores the reasons why Facebook memorials may appeal to a grieving adolescent, conventions in online grief, and challenges for schools in the context of policies for social networking.

35. Youngblut, J. M., & Brooten, D. (2013). Parents’ Report of Child’s Response to Sibling’s Death in a Neonatal or Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. American Journal of Critical Care, 22(6), 474-481 8p. doi:10.4037/ajcc2013790

Background: Research on sibling death in a pediatric/neonatal intensive care unit is limited, despite many qualitative differences from deaths at home or in hospitals’ general care areas and has overlooked cultural differences. Objectives: To describe parents’ reports of children’s responses to a sibling’s death in a neonatal or pediatric intensive care unit via qualitative interviews at 7 months after the death. Methods: English-speaking (n = 19) and Spanish-speaking (n = 8) parents of 24 deceased infants/children described responses of their 44 surviving children: 10 preschool, 19 school-age, and 15 adolescent. Parents’ race/ethnicity was 48% black, 37% Hispanic, 15% white. Ten siblings died in the neonatal unit and 14 in the pediatric intensive care unit. Semistructured interviews in parents’ homes were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed with content analysis. Results: Six themes about surviving children emerged. Changed behaviors were reported by parents of school-age children and adolescents. Not understand what was going on was reported primarily by parents of preschoolers. Numbers of comments in the 4 remaining themes are as follows: maintaining a connection (n = 9), not having enough time with their siblings before death and/or to say goodbye (n = 6), believing the sibling is in a good place (n = 6), not believing the sibling would die (n = 4). Comments about girls and boys were similar. White parents made few comments about their children compared with black and Hispanic parents. The pattern of comments differed by whether the sibling died in the neonatal or the pediatric intensive care unit. Conclusions: Children’s responses following a sibling’s death vary with the child’s sex, parents’ race/ethnicity, and the unit where the sibling died. Children, regardless of age, recognized their parents’ grief and tried to comfort them.

36. McKissock, D. & Bereavement C.A.R.E. Centre (2009). The Grief of Our Children (Rev. 2nd ed). [Wyong, N.S.W.] Bereavement C.A.R.E. Centre. Find in an Australian library

Last reviewed: 4/7/20