Talking about dying is hard.
Dying is harder.
But there are many people who can help.
-from “The Purple Balloon”
Created in conjunction with Children’s Hospice International, The Purple Balloon by Chris Raschka offers a way for parents, families, friends, and hospital workers to broach how to explain death to a child.
This simple children’s book is based on this fascinating anecdote shared at the beginning of the book:
“When a child becomes aware of his or her pending death and is given the opportunity to “draw your feelings,” he or she will often draw a blue or purple balloon, released and floating free. Health care professionals have discovered that this is true regardless of a child’s cultural or religious background, and researchers believe that it deomonstrates the child’s innate knowledge that a part of him or her will live forever.”
The book, illustrated by Raschka with plain, simple watercolor balloon characters, encourages kids to be there for terminally-ill friends and classmates, or to seek help and companionship from loved ones if they themselves are ill. The brief text shares the basic messge that there is no necessarily “right” way to grieve or to approach the end-of-life. But in every case, either is a little easier with some help from friends and loved ones.
The book closes with a short list for kids, “What you can do to help” when a friend is sick or in the hospital.
The Purple Balloon addresses an important need for a tool to open conversations about death with grieving or dying children. The conversation is never an easy one to start, and when it’s about young people, it becomes even more difficult. Over the coming weeks, we’ll share more children’s books we’ve found that deal with death, in order to better help you explain this important topic to your children and grandchildren.
Have you read The Purple Balloon? Did it help you talk to a child about death?