Back in August of 2014, when millions of people collectively gasped and grieved the tragic and unexpected death of Robin Williams, one of our wonderful grief-friends allowed us to interview her on talking to kids about suicide. We knew from comments and questions that many of you were struggling with what to say to your children; talking about death with kids is hard enough, suicide makes it even more complicated. Luckily Sarah Montgomery is a rock-star social worker who specializes in child grief and has a specific interest in supporting children and families after a suicide. If you missed our interview with Sarah you can check it out here (and you should, because she has all sorts of great ideas for helping kids understand suicide).
I am excited to say that Sarah, along with fellow social-worker Susan Coale, have finally taken their wealth of knowledge, put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) and written a book: Supporting Children After a Suicide Loss: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers.
These two lovely ladies have over 50 years of combined experience between them (though you would never know it to look at them!) and believe you me, the breadth of their knowledge pours off the pages of their book. We take our grief resources very, very seriously and, let’s be honest, many of the books out there end up being a big fat let down. I speak from experience because (as my husband will attest) I have a serious book buying problem. My shelves are overflowing with grief books that I spied online, got super excited about, ordered, tore open, started reading, and then retired to the shelf after being disappointed that they didn’t provide what I had been looking for.
Grief books are often like the story of Goldilocks – they are either too general or too specific, they are too academic or too basic or too abstract – you get the idea. The brilliance of Sarah and Susan’s book is that it is juuuuuust right. Though it is specific, in that it is intended for those supporting a child after a suicide loss, it is written such that it could benefit teachers, parents, school counselors, caregivers, extended family, pastors, or almost anyone else supporting a grieving child. It is grounded in experience and evidenced-based practices, while being concrete and practical. And it has a great design, to boot (if you are going to write great content, why not make it look good?!).
To give some quick highlights, this book:
- Gives a quick and accurate overview of kids’ understanding a different developmental stages.
- Encourages adults to be aware of their own self-care (something we think far too many resources neglect!)
- Gives a step by step guide to preparing for and having conversations about suicide, including some specific ideas for opening the conversation, what to say, and how to say it.
- Gives some specific examples of common questions kids may have and how to respond.
- Has sections on challenges specific to younger children and teens, with ideas on how to address them.
- Gives an overview of common grief reactions in kids and how to support them.
- Has a section on addressing suicide in the school setting, including DOs and DON’Ts and specific ideas for teachers and administrators.
If you are a parent, a teacher, a caregiver, an administrator, a school counselor, a priest, a pastor, a friend, a favorite aunt, a crazy uncle, or any other person supporting a child after a suicide death we put this resource on the strong recommend list! You can check it out on Amazon:
You know how a lot of online shopping sites will show you a section of ‘people who bought this item also bought . . .’ and then they show you some stuff that you might like? Well, fear not. WYG has a low tech version of that. It is me telling you that if this book has peaked your interest, you may also want to check out the review we did a while back about an activity book that the Dougy Center put out called After a Suicide: An Activity Book for Grieving Kids. Rather than being for adults, about supporting kids, this is an activity book for kids. It is another suicide grief resource we love. You can check out our review of that book here.
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