Grief, Loss, and Thanatology

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." -- Matthew 5:5

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Funerals and Memorial Services

Support for Grieving Children - Support for Grieving Families and Friends

Blue Christmas and Holiday Resources for Those Who Mourn

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Funerals and Memorial Services

In Times of Death: Worship Resources for Funeral/Memorial Services (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship) - http://webapps.calvin.edu/worship/planning/5_09_04.php

A Guide for Planning Your Funeral (Old First Church, Presbyterian, Tallahassee, FL) - http://www.oldfirstchurch.org/Funerals/Funeral%20Planning.htm

Resources for Funerals - http://www.bible.org/topic.asp?topic_id=48

Funeral Information Form - http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1933

The Story of Taps (Kir Shalom) - http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermons/sr-story-of-taps.html

Taps: Notes from a Nation's Heart / Richard H. Schneider. New York: HarperCollins (2002)

Farewell, godspeed : the greatest eulogies of our times / edited by Cyrus M. Copeland. New York : Harmony Books (2003). [REQ]

A wonderful life : 50 eulogies to lift the spirit / edited by Cyrus M. Copeland. Chapel Hill, NC : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (2006). [REQ]

Funerals and Rituals (Kir Shalom) - http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/grief/griefA1.html#funrit

Interchurch Families: Funerals (Association of Interchurch Families, UK)

The Last Passage: Re-visioning Dying, Death, and Funeral / by Donald Heinz (Religion Online). Christian Century (1982).

Good Grief! An Undertaker’s Reflections / by Thomas Lynch (Religion Online). Christian Century (2003)

Support for Grieving Children

All Kids Grieve: A Resource for Teachers, Parents, Counselors, and Other Caring Adults - http://allkidsgrieve.org/

Helping Teenagers Cope with Grief (Hospice.net)

Amanda the Panda: Grief Support Library - http://www.griefwords.com/library/active/amandathepandaorg.asp

Comfort Zone Camp - http://www.comfortzonecamp.org/; age appropriate support groups for children and their parents throughout the year; provides the whole family a therapeutic support network with age-based support groups to address the specific grief issues of children, adolescents, and their parents.

When a friend dies : a book for teens about grieving & healing / Marilyn E. Gootman ; edited by Pamela Espeland ; [foreword by Michael Stipe]. Minneapolis, MN : Free Spirit Pub., c2005. [BIB]

Healing your grieving heart for kids : 100 practical ideas : simple advice and activities for children after a death / Alan D. Wolfelt. Fort Collins, Colo. : Companion Press, c2001. [BIB]

35 ways to help a grieving child / Amy R. Barrett ... [et al.]. Portland, Or. : The Dougy Center, c1999.[BIB]

When a friend dies : a book for teens about grieving & healing / Marilyn E. Gootman ; edited by Pamela Espeland. Minneapolis, MN : Free Spirit, c1994. [SPL]

When children grieve : for adults to help children deal with death, divorce, pet loss, moving, and other losses / John W. James and Russell Friedman with Leslie Landon Matthews. New York : HarperCollins, c2001. [WPL]

Children's Books about Death and Loss

Many of these books for children do not specifically address the religious aspects of death, but are valuable in honoring the life lost and initiating conversations about a death with a child. Those marked with "" include a faith perspective on death.

Badger's parting gifts / Susan Varley. New York : Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books (1984); Badger's friends are sad when he dies but treasure the memories he left them. [MPL, SPL, WPL]

Book discussed in PBS Reading Rainbow, Program #141 - GPN Educational Media;

Teacher's Activity Guide

Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs / written and illustrated by Tomie DePaola. New York : Putnam, 1973. Four-year-old Tommy enjoys his relationship with both his grandmother and great-grandmother, but eventually learns to face their inevitable deaths.

Water bugs and dragonflies : explaining death to young children / Doris Stickney ; illustrations by Gloria Ortiz Hernandez. Pilgrim Press (1997). [REQ]

Remember the secret / Elisabeth Kübler-Ross ; illustrations by Heather Preston. Celestial Arts (1982); Because she has already discovered the wonders of God, Suzy understands the true meaning of her friend's death. [REQ]

It must hurt a lot : [a book about death, and learning, and growing] / [the story by Doris Sanford & pictures by Graci Evans]. Multnomah Press (1985); Describes a boy's reactions of anger, grief, and eventual acceptance when his dog dies. Includes suggestions to parents for helping a child deal with loss. [REQ]

The cherry blossom tree : a grandfather talks about life and death / Jan Godfrey ; illustrated by Jane Cope. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg (1996); five-year-old Harriet's grandfather explains that everything that is born has to die sometime, but that God's love makes all things new. [REQ]

Mick Harte was here / by Barbara Park. New York : Bullseye Books : Random House (1995). Thirteen-year-old Phoebe recalls her younger brother Mick and his death in a bicycle accident.

Losing Uncle Tim / MaryKate Jordan ; illustrated by Judith Friedman. Niles, Ill. : A. Whitman (1989); When his beloved Uncle Tim dies of AIDS, Daniel struggles to find reassurance and understanding and finds that his favorite grown-up has left him a legacy of joy and courage. [WPL]

Saying good-bye to grandma / by Jane Resh Thomas ; illustrated by Marcia Sewall. New York : Clarion Books (1988); Seven-year-old Suzie is curious and fearful about what Grandma's funeral will be like. [SPL]

I'll always love you / by Hans Wilhelm. New York : Crown (1985); A child's sadness at the death of a beloved dog is tempered by the remembrance of saying to it every night, "I'll always love you." [SPL, WPL]

My grandmother died--but I won't forget her / Bernice Hogan ; illustrated by Nancy Munger. Nashville : Abingdon Press (1983); A young boy whose grandmother has recently died finds comforting reminders of her. [REQ]

Talk to God -- I'll get the message / by Norman Geller. Lewiston, Me. : N. Geller (1983); available in Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish editions. [REQ]

The butterfly tree / by Joan Lowery Nixon ; illustrated by James McIlrath. Huntington, Ind. : Our Sunday Visitor (1979). [REQ]

The tenth good thing about Barney / Judith Viorst ; illustrated by Erik Blegvad. New York, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (1971); In an attempt to overcome his grief, a boy tries to think of the ten best things about his dead cat. [SPL, WPL]

A taste of blackberries / Doris Buchanan Smith ; illustrations by Mike Wimmer. Harper & Row (1973); A young boy recounts his efforts to adjust to the accidental death of his friend. [REQ]

Sad Isn't Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing With Loss (Elf-Help Books for Kids) / by Michaelene Mundy, R. W. Alley (Illustrator).

Grandpa loved / by Josephine Nobisso, Maureen Hyde (Illustrator). Westhampton Beach, N.Y. : Gingerbread House (2002). Grandpa's love of life insures that he is still present, after his death, in the lives of all who loved him. Although the boy misses his beloved grandpa's presence he feels assured that his passing has brought him to a better place and he knows that his grandpa's love will always be with him. [MPL]

Gentle Willow : a story for children about dying / written by Joyce C. Mills ; illustrated by Cary Pillo. Washington, D.C. : Magination Press (2004). Written for children who may not survive their illness or for the children who know them, this tender and touching tale helps address feelings of disbelief, anger, and sadness, along with love and compassion, and accept the change that comes with death. [REQ]

Where Is Grandpa? / by T. A. Barron, Chris Soentpiet (Illustrator). Putnam Juvenile (2001). On the day that Grandpa dies, a boy listens as his sister, brother and parents share memories of this generous, dynamic man. But he can't bring himself to join in, despite his own fond memories. Fumbling for a definition of heaven, the father concludes, "Maybe you could say that heaven is any place where people who love each other have shared some time together."

What Happens When We Die (Childrens Bible Basics) / by Carolyn Nystrom, Eira Reeves (Illustrator). Moody Publishers (1992). The thought of dying can make any child sad and scared. Will it hurt? Does God want me to die? Where is heaven? Will Mom and Dad be there? How do I get there if I'm buried in the ground?In this simple yet profound book your children will see for themselves the reasons people die, Christ's death and resurrection, and what God has in store for them in heaven.

Someone I loved died (Please Help Me, God) / by Christine Harder Tangvald. Chariot Victor Publishing (May 1988); provides a positive approach for children to deal with the death of a friend or loved one in a comforting, non-threatening way and points them to Jesus Christ.

The Next Place / by Warren Hanson. Minneapolis, MN : Waldman House Press (1999). An inspirational journey of light and hope to a place where earthly hurts are left behind. [SPL, WPL]

Tear soup : a recipe for healing after loss / story by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen ; illustrated by Taylor Bills. Portland, Or. : Grief Watch (2004). In this modern-day fable, a woman who has suffered a terrible loss cooks up a special batch of "tear soup," blending the unique ingredients of her life into the grief process. Along the way she dispenses a recipe of sound advice for people who are in mourning. [REQ]

Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies / by Janis Silverman. Minneapolis : Fairview Press (1999). Art therapy book that encourages children to express their feelings in words or pictures. Discusses what to say and do, how to deal with feelings, and how to remember friends and relatives that have died. For parents, teachers, and therapists. [REQ]

What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies? / by Trevor Romain. Free Spirit Publishing (1999). This book provides brief and blunt answers to questions many children may have and adults may not consider - it touches on 'What is a Memorial Service', 'Where does the person go', 'Am I Going To Die Too?', 'Is the Death My Fault' as well as common feelings experienced while grieving. Each topic is brief and written for a child.

Fireflies, peach pies, & lullabies / story by Virginia Kroll ; pictures by Nancy Cote. New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (1995); When Francie's Great-Granny Annabel dies of Alzheimer's disease, Francie finds a way to help people remember the real person rather than the shell she had become as the disease ran its course. [MPL]

Love you forever / written by Robert Munsch ; illustrated by Sheila McGraw. Buffalo, NY : Firefly Books (2004). A young woman hold her newborn son and looks at him lovingly. This is the story of how that little boy goes through the stages of childhood and becomes a man. [REQ]

Sky Memories /Pat Brisson; illustrated by Wendell Minor. Emily shares her mother's final months while battling cancer and the two of them collect "sky memories", images of life with which Emily can remember her mother.

Waldo, Tell Me About Dying /Hans Wilhelm. Answers young children's questions about death from a Christian perspective.

Grandad Bill's Song / Jane Yolen. On the day of Grandad's funeral, his family remembers him at different stages of his life.

Children's Books About Alzheimer's Disease

Although Alzheimer's is a terminal disease (as brain control of physical processes is lost), patients seem to slip away from this world day by day as memories of people, places, and community are lost. These books help children understand and deal with the loss of the person that they knew.

Singing with Momma Lou / by Linda Jacobs Altman ; illustrations by Larry Johnson. New York : Lee & Low Books (2002). Nine-year-old Tamika uses photographs, school yearbooks, movie ticket stubs, and other mementos to try to restore the memory of her grandmother, who has Alzeheimer's disease. [REQ]

Grandma's Cobwebs / by Ann Frantti. Dagney Publishing (2002); Claire's parents teach her facts about Alzheimer's Disease. They don't, however, pay much attention to how Claire is feeling about the changes in her grandmother's behavior.

What's Happening to Grandpa? / by Maria Shriver, Sandra Speidel (Illustrator)

The Memory Box /Mary Bahr. Morton Grove, IL: A Whitman (1992). When Gramps realizes he has Alzheimer's disease, he starts a memory box with his grandson, Zach, to keep memories of all the times they have shared. [WPL]

Grandpa doesn't know it's me / by Donna Guthrie ; illustrated by Katy Keck Arnsteen. New York, N.Y. : Human Sciences Press (1986); Elizabeth observes her grandfather become a victim of Alzheimer's disease and describes its symptoms and effects. [MPL]

The sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins / Lester L. Laminack ; illustrated by Constance R. Bergum. Atlanta, Ga. : Peachtree (1998). Even though Miss Olivia seems unaware of the world around her, when her daughter and her great-grandson come to the nursing home to visit, they awaken happy memories of her past.

Horse whispers in the air / Dandi Daley Mackall.St. Louis, MO : Concordia Pub. House (2000); After she discovers what her grandfather had been collecting in jars which appeared to be empty, Scoop understands that although he had Alzheimer's, he remembered the past. [REQ]

Maria's grandma gets mixed up / the story by Doris Sanford ; illustrations by Gracia Evans. Portland, Or. : Multnomah (1989). A young girl turns to God to help her understand her grandmother's strange behavior. [REQ]

A beautiful pearl / Nancy Whitelaw ; illustrated by Judith Friedman. Morton Grove, Ill. : A. Whitman (1991). Although her mind is deteriorating from the effects of Alzheimer's disease, Grandma presents Lisa with a special gift on her birthday. [REQ]

What's wrong with Grandma?: A Family's Experience With Alzheimer's / by Margaret Shawver. Prometheus Books (2003).

Remember me / Margaret Wild ; illustrated by Dee Huxley. Morton Grove, Ill. : A. Whitman (1995). Although she may forget many things, Ellie's Grandma remembers all the special times the two of them have shared. [REQ]

Through Tara's eyes : helping children cope with Alzheimer's disease / by Kathy Baumann and Erin Conners ; illustrated by Thea Kliros. Rockville, Md. : American Health Assistance Foundation (1995). [REQ]

Support for Grieving Families and Friends

Survivors of Homicide in Connecticut - http://www.survivorsofhomicide.com/

Survivors of Suicide - http://www.survivorsofsuicide.com/

The Compassionate Friends: Grief Support After the Death of a Child - http://www.compassionatefriends.org/

National Children's Memorial Day: For Those Who Died Too Soon (7:00 p.m., 2nd Sunday in December) - http://ncmd.tripod.com/

Worldwide Candle Lighting - http://www.compassionatefriends.org/WWCL_Dev/wclpresspkt.htm

GriefNet - http://www.griefnet.org/

Grief and Loss (AARP) - http://www.aarp.org/families/grief_loss/

Healing for Grieving Parents (Christianity Today) - http://www.christianitytoday.com/cpt/2003/002/33.8.html

Guidelines for Christian Clergy: Providing Care to the Family Experiencing Perinatal Loss, Neonatal Death, SIDS, or Other Infant Death (Bereavement Support Work Team, National SIDS & Infant Death Program Support Center)

Grief and Loss Support Centre (Kir-Shalom) - http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/grief/griefA1.html#ggr

Silent Grief - Support for all who have suffered miscarriage and later child loss.

Grief Education for Caregivers of the Elderly (Haworth Religion and Mental Health.) / by Junietta Baker McCall. Haworth Pastoral Press (November 1998).

The tender scar : life after the death of a spouse / by Richard L. Mabry. Grand Rapids, MI : Kregel Publications, c2006. [WPL]

On grief and grieving / Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler. New York: Scribner (2005). Completed shortly before her death, Kubler-Ross and Life Lessons co-author David Kessler revisit the five stages in order to create a deeply empathetic and accessible guide for those left behind. With compassion and understanding, the authors deliver insights and advice designed to help readers rebalance their lives and find the courage to continue. [SPL]

The pummeled heart : finding peace through pain / Antoinette Bosco. Mystic, Conn. : Twenty-third Publications (1994). [BIB]

Surviving the death of a sibling : living through grief when an adult brother or sister dies / T.J. Wray ; foreword by Earl Thompson. New York : Three Rivers Press (2003). [BIB]

Confessions of a grieving Christian / Zig Ziglar. Nashville, Tenn. : T. Nelson, (1999); discusses well-known public speaker's grief over his oldest daughter's death. [BIB]

Silent cradle : help and understanding in time of pregnancy loss / by Judy Gordon Morrow, Nancy Gordon ; [foreword by Dale Hanson Bourke]. Indianapolis, IN : Light and Life Communications (1998). [REQ]

How Can I Help? / What Will Help Me? 12 things to do when someone you know suffers a loss / 12 things to remember when you have suffered a loss (two in one book) / James E. Miller. Willowgreen Publishing (2000).

Seasons of Grief and Healing: A guide for those who mourn / James E. Miller. Augsburg Fortress Publishers (2000).

Winter grief, summer grace : returning to life after a loved one dies / text and photography by James E. Miller. Minneapolis : Augsburg (1995); photographs with meditations, poetry selections, scripture, spiritual exercises and quotations from such varied sources as Brother Lawrence and Gaelic prayers to create a roadway through the grief that comes from a loved one's death. [REQ]

Blue Christmas and Holiday Resources for Those Who Mourn

A Blue Christmas Service (Whole People of God curriculum, Woodlake Books) - http://www.spirit-net.ca/sermons/bluexmas.html

The Blue Christmas (Anglican Diocese of Ottawa)

Worship Remembering Those We Miss at Christmas (Trinity Presbyterian Church, Denton, TX) - http://www.trinitypresdenton.org/contacts/pastor/sermons/xmasremember.htm

Lessons from the Manger (William E. Miller) - http://house2house.org/manger.html

Blue Christmas / Longest Night Worship With Those Who Mourn (United Methodist Church Board of Discipleship) - http://www.gbod.org/worship/default.asp?act=reader&item_id=5630&loc_id=9,612,636

The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions / By: Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge, Robert DeVries. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books (2001). Sensitive, faith-based counsel on grieving and honoring a lost loved one on holidays, anniversaries, and other special occassions. [REQ]

Blue Christmas - Grieving Through The Holidays (Christian Century, Dec 27, 2003) / by Mary Cartledgehayes

Blue Christmas Service (First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Height, VA)

Managing Grief at Christmas (Reach Out!) - emotional health tips.

Annie's How to Cope with Grief and the Holidays Page

Managing Grief at Christmas (U Lifeline) - emotional health tips from college students' perspective.

Dealing with Grief at Christmas / Dr. David L. Chauncey (The Citizen, Fayetteville, GA).

Holiday Ideas for Grieving Parents (Angel Hugs)

Christmas Gifts, Christmas Voices / by John Allen. Deerfield Beach, Fla. : Health Communications (2002); fictional story of a husband adn father who must cope with the sudden death of his wife and children just weeks before Christmas. [REQ]

A Decembered Grief: Living With Loss While Others Are Celebrating / Harold Ivan Smith. Kansas City, Mo. : Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (1999); designed to guide the reader on the journey beyond "the shadow" and directly through "the valley of death" through quotes, prayers, Scriptures, and the words of the author. [REQ]

Surviving Holidays, Birthdays, and Anniversaries: A Guide for Grieving During Special Occasions / Brook Noel. Champion Press (WI) (2004).

Healing Your Holiday Grief: 100 Practical Ideas for Blending Mourning and Celebration During the Holiday Season / Alan D. Wolfelt. Companion Press (2005).

Grief in Holiday Wrapping: Family of Terrorism Victim Copes by Adapting Christmas Traditions / Raymond McCaffrey (Washington Post, 25 December 2001).

How do you celebrate when the holidays are stained with grief? / Jacqueline Louie (Calgary Herald)

Grief and the holidays / Robert DeVries and Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge (Kerux, Vol. 3:6, 9 December 2002, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, MI).

Grief During The Holidays: Making a Plan Will Help / Elizabeth Barlow (Baptist Memorial Health Care).

Items which are available through the local public library system are identified as follows: [SPL] = Southbury Public Library; [WPL] = Woodbury Public Library; [MPL] = Middlebury Public Library; [BIB] = Bibliomation library cooperative; [REQ] = Connecticut StateLibrary reQuest catalogue.

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HELP Navigating These Faith Resources

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Last revised: 1 July 2009; please report any problems with this site to the Librarian