As you well know now, if you follow my blog, I am no longer able to watch a movie or read a book without putting it through the grief perspective.
Recently, two children’s programs, the first, a new movie entitled Beyond Beyond and the other a book written by LeVar Burton, from Reading Rainbows, caught my attention as valuable resources that could help bereaved children in comprehending their grief and seeking support in ways that are appropriate and safe.
I shall start with The Rhino Who Swallowed A Storm, by LeVar Burton, since he is such a favourite with Emma!
Emma has been a subscriber to Reading Rainbows for a couple of years now and absolutely loves the wide range of educational videos they provide. Since she is an emergent reader, she has found the Read to me feature of the thousands of books on offer truly helpful and this is how I got to hear the story read by LeVar myself:
The book is about a Rhino and his beautiful world in which “magic turns tragic“. A huge storm destroys the valley in which he lives, much like grief destroys the world of a child and its innocence and safety when it hits. “Senseless calamity” tears through his world and takes away EVERYTHING he held dear. (Oh, how much I can identify with those words and my latest blog post for BritMums reflects just that sense of bewilderment and loss we feel, two years on!)
Rhino is left stunned by the scene, “death and destruction all through the ravine” and enraged by the scene, he does the unthinkable, he actually goes and swallows the storm!
Instead of being able to contain it, Rhino finds himself deeply affected by the inward storm of emotions and when the storm stops raging inside him, he finds himself at the bottom “of a very deep hole.”
“Lost, lonely and in such a dark place”, his help unexpectedly comes from a tiny spider, who comes down into his hole with clear guidance and encouragement:
“You must find a way to let that storm out and move through your sorrow,
You will find many helpers on your road to tomorrow.”
The Rhino tries to climb out but the Hole is steep and slippery and it is only with the help of his friends that he manages to get back up.
“When help is needed, we’ll pull you through it.”
Strengthened by the reassurance of their love and support, the newly freed Rhino sets on a quest but the storm still raging inside him makes things difficult, keeping his brain foggy and making him worry about many things:
“Where do I go, what do I do?
How will I ever make it through?”
“After every dark night, there comes a new day,
Be kind, do your best and you’ll find your way” advise friends.
“Allowing yourself to feel those feelings
Is the first step towards healing” a wise tortoise tells him.
As Rhino starts letting go of “raindrops from his eye” and has a good cry, he finds himself feeling lighter than he had felt in ages. His tears take him on a journey of their own now, towards the ocean, where he is advised by a Whale not to be afraid of his pain and sing it out, as a way of release.
Allowing his emotions to emerge leave Rhino feeling “calm, strong and brave”. His vision, no longer obliterated by rage, reveals now a world filled with love. He emerges on the other side full of gratitude to his loving friends and strong in their reassurance and support for the future.
With “faith in himself and faith in his friends” he can not dream of a world that is safe and connected.
“It was love that mattered.
Love can never be lost, love can never be shattered.”
I love this book, as much as Emma does, as it holds so much truth and provides such precious guidance to a bereaved child. Reaching out for help, trusting those who offer support and guidance, making sense of life after loss, it is all there and in clear and easy details a child can grasp and hold on to!
If LeVar’s book offers clear guidance to a child struggling with their emotions and ways to process grief, Beyond Beyond offers an explanation to all those “whys” a bereaved child has about the afterworld. Based on a traditional Scandinavian tale, Beyond Beyond is a beautifully animated tale for children about coming to terms with the absence of a loved one.
Jonah the Rabbit, who lost his mother to the mythical Feather King, still cannot come to terms with her loss and attempts to transcend the beyond limits in her search. Jonah finds her but the worlds as they stood, separated as reality and the afterworld, come crumbing down, threatening to take down with them the happy memories.
Emma really took to the bottle messaging idea and wanted to write messages and send them to Georgie afterwards, which we encouraged her to do, as I strongly believe that somehow, her love transcends the time boundaries and can reach Georgie where he is.
I loved the idea of Death as a Feather King, a fragile sort of monarch of the Beyond kingdom whose role is simply keeping the order of things as they stand. It does reverberate with what I believe that death now has no more power on me, as in it, I will be reunited with my son and the movie reassures children with the same perception, explaining in the same time that their loved ones are well and waiting for them in the Beyond.
I found both resources wonderful in managing Emma’s grief and would recommend them wholeheartedly.
Disclaimer: we were sent the DVD for the purpose of this review. We have been subscribers to Reading Rainbows for ages and love the book and everything about the app and what it has to offer. The post expresses our honest opinions.