Why write or read such a sad book?

Letter to: kids and friends and teachers and parents (and anyone else who wants to read it)

Why I wrote My Dad Died: Reflections of a Child©

Hi.  My name is Lea, and I wrote the book, My Dad Died: Reflections of a Child©.  You might wonder why in the world anyone would write such a book or why I would give it such a sad name. 

Well, the very sad fact is that there are children whose parents or caregivers have died.  When this happens to anyone, it leaves the person feeling lots of different things.  Of course, people are very sad, because they didn’t want their mom or dad or other loved one to die, but there are other feelings as well.  Sometimes, these feelings can be sort of scary.  Like being afraid that someone else might die or being afraid that you, yourself, might die.  Sometimes, a feeling is scary because no one knows when it will end, like being afraid that sadness and lonesomeness will never be end. 

People (humans that is) are very interesting.  Many times, when we are afraid of something, if we know that someone else is going through the same thing, we can feel less afraid.

You see, my husband, who was the dad of my two kids, died.  After he died, we all felt lots of things, including different: like we were not the same as all the other people around us.  We didn’t know anyone else who had been through this sort of situation, and we didn’t know there was anyone that we could talk to who would really understand all of the complicated feelings we were having.

Did you know that after someone you love dies, it is normal to be very angry?  There are lots of reasons to be angry about the person dying.  It isn’t fair!  The reason the person died may make you angry.  The fact that your life is changing dramatically may make you angry.  Lots of things about death can cause anger.  It makes sense when you think of it. 

Books sometimes help us learn about others AND about ourselves.

Feelings, such as anger, are not always expected after the death of a parent.  The person who feels it does not usually expect the feeling.  Likewise, teachers, friends, and family members may not expect these different emotions.    When we know that the feeling is normal, and that other people share our feelings because of similar situations, we can begin to let ourselves express our feelings, learn about ourselves, and move beyond the problem feelings to find what lies ahead for us in life.

I want people to read My Dad Died©.  When our friends, teachers and family members know that we are having complicated and difficult feelings, they can help us, by giving us space to feel, by listening (when we want to talk), and by suggesting activities that might help us feel better.  For example, if a teacher sees that a child is struggling with anger, the teacher might Let the child talk about his or her frustration, or suggest some activities that help release the anger energy.  If the teacher doesn’t know this, the child might begin having problems in school for not being able to control anger that is building up inside.

Now, the easier question is: Why is the book called, “MY DAD DIED;” isn’t that a terrible name for a book?

My answer is:  It is terrible when a parent dies, but I find that the children I know understand the plain truth better than most adults.  There is a part in the book about Jasmin and Jon and how they feel differently when it comes to telling people that their dad is dead.  It is true, not everyone wants to hear such plain language about such a horrible subject.  But to me, and many kids, after the death of my loved one, I just wanted to be honest and plain spoken.  Sometimes the things that seem to hard to say in some prettier way just need to be said in the most honest way.  When I am struggling to find the words to describe something or talk about feelings, I try to just find the most simple words that identify the problem.  It helps me begin to talk to friends about my problems.

Thanks for reading my letter.

I hope that you are well.