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Lifetimes

Julie Marks

Los Angeles, United States

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This piece is dedicated to Alice, a five year old who has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. Often children do not understand the concept of death and there have been many books written to help them understand by reading books that will comfort them and allow them to express their very sad feelings about a family member or friend. I thought of this photo and narrative after hearing the news this morning. The book Lifetimes beautifully illustrates the representation of life and death of all creatures including flowers, leaves and the changing seasons, the cycles of life and death. One floral has blossomed and another has died and withered away.

I have an extensive collection of Childrens books; some about death and grieving that explain the cycles of life with wonderful text and illustrations. Lifetimes: Healing for Children and Adults is great book to give to anyone who has lost a family member, friend or family pet. Since children often encounter their first experience with death when a pet dies, this book describes the universality of death combined with beautiful soft drawings that are soothing to underscore the stages of life. One of the best parts of Lifetimes is its focus on what a lifetime is, how it is framed by birth and death and emphasizes the importance of what is in between, life!! It explains that different creatures and flowers in this case have different life spans so children can see death as a normal part of life experiences. Death is so often emotionally charged for adults, that having soothing books about this subject is a one of the ultimate gifts to give to anyone who has suffered a loss. I also like that it is ecumenical so it does not offend anyone. Using the term the “next place” is a wonderful alternative to telling a child about heaven and hell; religious beliefs that can frighten a young child. The book is written with beautiful language that appeals to a wide range of religious beliefs. Likening one’s soul to a raindrop that joins other raindrops in the ocean is a beautiful metaphor that children of all ages can understand, Mellonie, does a great job of describing the most indescribable of places (which may not be a place at all but merely a state of being. Lifetimes: Healing for Children and Adults Author: Bryan Mellonie The classic, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, A Story of Life for All Ages has always been at the top of my list and now has a 20th Anniversary Edition. I often have more than one copy since I give it to children after experiencing death and wondering why people die, especially their beloved pets. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney is another delightful book that is a classic helping children deal with the loss of a family pet. The story about Freddie, the leaf and his companion leaves illustrates the cycles of life by using leaves that change with the seasons, finally falling to the ground illustrating the rhythms of life and death in this charming, touching and sensitive text with illustrations that would appeal to all ages. This beautiful and metaphorical book has helped thousands of people to come to terms with life and death. Book: The Fall of Freddy the Leaf Author: Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D.

Tear Soup is another very charming book that contends that whats true about soup making is also true about grieving. In this beautifully illustrated book, Grandy has just suffered a loss in her life. She deals with her grief by cooking her unique tear soup. We get a glimpse into Grandy’s life as she blends different ingredients into her own grief process. The text is amusing, whimsical and perfect for children dealing with loss. ‘There once was an old and somewhat wise woman whom everyone called Grandy. She just suffered a big loss in her life. Pops her husband suffered the same loss, but in his own way. This is the story of how Grandy faced her loss by setting out to make tear soup." For many years the custom of making tear soup had been forgotten. As peoples lives become more rushed they found it much easier to pull soup in a can from the shelf and heat it on the stove. One of her recipes called for comfort food. For Grandy this meant mashed potatoes or ice cream. Comfort food always makes you feel better at least for a little while. It gets past that big lump in your throat when other foods cant. I think is needs some chocolate too." states Grandy. After all, it was her soup. After she tasted the rich flavor of that carefully made soup, she promised herself never again to assume that quicker is better." Grandy knew she had to make much of a special part of the soup alone. She learned from past experiences that most people dont like being around tears. Her friends would worry if they knew just how many tears Grandy’s recipe called for this time. So, the old and wise woman reflected on her own special recipe as she looked down into the large overflowing pot of memories. It was a task she would repeat many times during her lifetime. "Grandy winced when she took a sip of the broth. All she could taste was salt from her teardrops. It tasked bitter, but she knew this was where she had to start. And for now, it was the only thing on her menu." Book: Tear Soup Author: Pat Schwiebert

The Next Place written by Warren Hanson is very worthwhile, an inspirational journey of light and hope to a place where earthy hurts are left behind. Buddy’s Candle, an inspiring and
uplifting story for children and adults)
about a loving dog named Buddy who helped
his “daddy” heal when facing serious
illness. Buddy’’s candle written by Bernie Siegel,
M.D. who practices alternative medicine
for cancer patients candle is another heartwarming testament
to the healing power of our
animal companions.

For adults who are suffering a loss, there is no better book than the classic by Elizabeth-Kubler- Ross. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was a doctor in Switzerland who railed against this unkindness of the medical profession who minimized the impact of loss and grief affecting those who suffered from a significant loss. She spent a lot of time with dying people, both comforting and studying them. She wrote a book, ‘On Death and Dying’ which included a cycle of emotional states that is often referred to (but not exclusively called) the Grief Cycle.

Artwork Comments

  • hilarydougill
  • Sally Omar
  • taueva faotusia
  • chazf
  • janeymac
  • robinbrown
  • Julie Marks
  • solareclips~Julie  Alexander
  • dpennyor
  • Kylie  Sheahen
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