As adults, we have loved and lost and learned to smile again. But for a child, a loved one’s passing is much more difficult to imagine, let alone to process. How do we approach heavy topics like mortality, sickness, and death with our little ones? What should we say to a kid who lost a parent, grandparent, or friend?
The answer is never black and white, but a good starting point is Missing You by Erica London, a mother of four who lost her uncle and wrote a book to express her grief in a child-friendly manner. This sweet tale of family and remembering is ideal for kids 4 to 8.
The story, written in free verse, follows a young protagonist searching for her deceased uncle and wondering why her family is crying. As the story progresses, she begins to understand that while her uncle is no longer with her on Earth, focusing on the wonderful memories they made together is a crucial step in healing from her grief.
The book is beautifully illustrated by Mayhara Ferraz; in addition to presenting a multiracial family dealing with loss, Missing You’s artist incorporates nature into the healing process and captures a plethora of emotion on her characters’ faces. Missing You is also accompanied by tips for parents on starting the conversation with their kids about the passing of a loved one.
Both author and illustrator took on an important project when they decided to address children’s grief—and with the additional resources found on Erica London’s website, including a touching song that shares the book’s title, Missing You is a great starting point for all children to learn about overcoming loss.