Helping Children Cope With the Loss of a Loved One
Review by Dara Mormile
Losing a parent at any age is devastating and comes with a whirlwind of emotions that you’re not ready to digest or confront.
When children have to say goodbye to a parent who’s passed away - left to deal with the traumatic aftermath of coping with this loss - there are sometimes more complex components to the healing process than meets the eye.
For Kansas City-based author and public speaker Christle Reed, helping youngsters find peace after losing a parent - particularly to cancer - motivated her to share coping mechanisms with the world.
Preferred Health Magazine spoke to Reed about her first published children’s book: “Hugs From The Sky,” which fosters a healthy sense of awareness of death and dying while compassionately helping kids work through feelings of loss and despair, among other emotions.
Reed lost her own father to lung cancer at only 11 years old and in recent years revisited the loving, distinguishing, and nurturing qualities in her dad that inspired the colorful, down-to-earth 43-page book. “I know what it’s like - as a child, it’s a different kind of shock. You think your parents are superheroes - they’re invincible and it’s impossible for anything bad to happen to them. They’re not supposed to die, so that idea isn’t even a concept to some children,” she said. “Even when you see someone is very sick and they’re going through a lot, you don’t want to think you’ll lose them any day. But my book delves into that and makes it a reality.” However, sharing her personal loss and journaling through the pain paved the way for a unique story of cherishing loved ones; a mechanism that further helped her heal. “It’s the story of my father’s outstanding personality - his charismatic ways, what a wonderful father he was, how he was the life of the party. And over the years I learned to hold onto his memories and celebrate different aspects of his life,” she said. “I want to teach children, through this personal experience, that even though their parent(s) may be gone, they’re still here in other forms - in other ways that they can be grateful for, be inspired by, and never truly forget.”
Today’s generation, she said, wants straightforward answers and clarity. “It’s a completely different world now than it was when I dealt with the loss of my dad in 1998 - there were no resources for children and kids were overlooked when it came to understanding grief. We never had counseling when we were younger,” said the 36-year-old. “I think we’re doing better emotionally as a society and we’re trying to psychologically offer children better mental health networks to cope with grief. Those kinds of discussions were taboo when I was growing up, so I didn’t have those conversations about sorrow and loss and the feelings that come along with losing a parent. Now, there are cartoons, YouTube videos and other platforms dealing with these issues, so we might as well keep an open mind about the topic. Kids want direct discussions and they want the truth when dealing with this kind of topic.”
The married mother of three works in behavioral health in her local school system. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and an M.S. in Management and Leadership.
“There are times parents get very sick and they won’t tell their children. My dad didn’t tell me he had cancer - I found out while I was eavesdropping on a phone call! That’s why I feel children should value time with their parents, because they don’t truly know what their parents are going through and when that last moment may happen.”
“Hugs From The Sky” is available on Amazon and you can follow Reed on LinkedIn for all of her literary updates. Visit her website https://www.lovecreedkc.org/ for more information.