My grateful thanks to Kat’s Socks for sending me a copy of children’s book In Loving Memory: A Child’s Journey to Understanding a Cremation Funeral and Starting the Grieving Process by Lacie Brueckner and Katherine Pendergast in return for an honest review.
In Loving Memory is available for purchase here.
In Loving Memory:
A Child’s Journey to Understanding a Cremation Funeral and Starting the Grieving Process
The co-author Lacie Brueckner has been a funeral director serving families since 2005. She has always taken a special interest in meeting the needs of children during the funeral process. She has found that most children want to feel included in the funeral too.
In this story a young girl named Harper has lost her grandma. Through gentle words and soft illustrations Harper learns what a funeral looks like and how she can participate. Harper and her family also take you through her journey of starting the grieving process.
A child who has lost someone near and dear to them can learn from young Harper’s experience.
Harper learns the following throughout her journey:
-Death is a natural part of life. Harper learns that plants, animals, and people live and die.
-Bodies go through natural changes when we die, so our bodies might look a little different. Through beautiful illustrations, Harper sees an open casket visitation, funeral, and grave side services.
-Each child might have a different comfort level when it comes to participating in a funeral. Harper’s parents allow her to decide how much she wants to participate in the funeral process by asking if she would like to see the body. They also ask if she is comfortable getting up and sharing a special memory of her grandma.
-Feeling different emotions is natural. Sometimes emotions come and go long after the funeral. Harper’s mom helps her do special activities that remind her of her grandma.
-Harper learns that our loved ones are always in our hearts long after the funeral. There are pages for your child to write or draw memories and ideas on what they can do to remember their loved one.
There is a video message from the authors that you will find here.
My Review of In Loving Memory
A children’s book about death and remembrance.
An aside for UK readers before I begin my review proper is that In Loving Memory is an American book so a couple of practices are different to those we have in the UK, such as cremation taking place in advance of the funeral, whereas in the UK the two events are usually held on the same day. Some language is different such as ‘vacation’ for holiday. That said, I think any differences can be turned to a benefit and used to explore language use in wider contexts such as KS1 and early KS2 classrooms or other children’s groups.
In Loving Memory is just the kind of book needed to help children come to terms with the death of a loved one, because it reassures them that the feelings they have are perfectly natural and to be expected. It’s short and accessible enough for a child to read independently, but I think would work best when shared with an adult so that discussions can be had about their own deceased loved ones. The concept of cremation is made clear and is dealt with in a matter of fact manner that demystifies it for children and removes the fear and trepidation.
In Loving Memory takes a child through the grieving process, but keeps a focus on positive aspects such as recreating activities that have been enjoyed together as when Harper bakes the cookies she used to love making with her Grandma. I think this would be a fabulous thing to do. I loved the scrapbook Harper’s Mum makes of all the things Grandma loved the best so that there is a permanent reminder of the joy in her life. I think this would be a healing and helpful idea for adults and children alike to ensure their memories of those they loved remain clear and present. I thought the space for young readers to share their own favourite memories of a loved one at the end of the book, either through writing or drawing, was an excellent touch too.
The illustrations in In Loving Memory are beautifully presented, conveying emotions and complementing the writing perfectly so that whilst the subject is sad, the book is actually very uplifting. I have one small comment to make in that I’d have liked Grandma to have friends and family of a wider ethnic range to make the book even more inclusive, but this is very much a personal preference.
I think In Loving Memory could be just the resource families, teachers, children’s workers and others are looking for in tackling the tricky subject of death with children aged 4 to 8. I recommend it.
About Lacie Brueckner and Katherine Pendergast
Lacie has been a funeral director serving families since 2005. She takes a special interest in meeting the needs of children during the funeral process, as they very much want and need to feel included too. In her experience she has found that including them and letting them lead the way in how much they want to be included usually works the best. Lacie is a North Dakota native and lives there with her husband and 5 children. She has always had an interest in writing and was honored to co-author this book.
Katherine lost her mom many years ago, and one of her favourite memories of her mom was on her last Mother’s Day. They planted petunias and went out for ice cream. Now, every Mother’s Day, Katherine plants petunias at her house not because they are her favourite but because they remind her of this special memory with her mom. Katherine lives with her family and two dogs in Bismarck, North Dakota. She has also written several other books including her award-winning books Pickles the Dog: Adopted, Pickles the Dog: A Christmas Tradition, and Babies of the Badlands.