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.
Bereavement is confusing for adults so it’s hard to even know where to start to explain it all to a child. Resources like this are wonderful to open up that dialogue and I’m glad that Emma has found some help within these books and DVDs.
I can’t even imagine what your family have been through but I think you’re doing a brilliant job at helping others through loss x
I cannot comprehend what you all go though on a daily basis. I always think it is better to talk about things openly so these must be a great resource to help this process.
I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for your all every single day. I’m so glad that these things have helped Emma though, it’s a difficult subject for children to understand xxx
not sure if my original comment went through as the screen crashed?! This sounds like a fab resource though x
These resources are amazing! I lost my father suddenly when I was six years old and I didn’t get any help like this at all. Back then it was very different and, as a consiquence, I am still coming to terms with my grief as an adult. I’m so glad these things are around now to help people like you and your lovely family.
That subject is so hard to explain to a child. Bless. This sounds like a good way
These are wonderful resources, and sound like they would be extremely helpful for helping bereaved children – and their parents too. Death is such a hard thing to comprehend for adults, let alone children. xx
A very hard thing to approach with kids. Sounds like a brilliant resource for children.
I will need these in the not-too-distant future. To date my children don’t know what it’s like to lose someone but sadly my FIL has a condition which means he will only be with us for the next couple of years. I am dreading the day that we have to say goodbye to such a kind, gentle and amazing man. I have lost many members of my family over the years but I have never had to deal with the grief of my children. So difficult xx
These books sound like an amazing resource and a great way to help tackle some really tricky feelings for anyone to get to grips with.
I am so sorry to hear of your loss and this review was so touching. Like Mummy Matters I too will be needing a way to help my children deal with the grief of losing my father. I don’t know how I will help them when I’m not yet sure how I will cope myself. I will definitely take a look at these. Thank you.
What beautiful resources to help support child bereavement, it is such a difficult subject to tackle for adults and for children I imagine equally so. Beyond beyond sounds like a wonderful story perfect for helping them understand.
What lovely and important resources, for such a difficult issue. I particularly love the concept of the book. I hope I never need it for my daughter, but I might buy it for the bookshelf anyway, as it sounds like a great way to teach about bereavement. X
These look like great resources for not only children but adults struggling too. Glad to hear that Emma has been helped by them
Both of those sound like wonderful ways to help children cope with bereavement. It is so hard for adults, let alone children – and anything that helps them understand and express their feelings is a really positive thing.
I can totally understand why Oona and this does sound like a great resource. I find it hard to explain to my oldest nephew who is 10 why Grandma went to heaven without my eyes filling with tears x
They both sound like wonderful resources for such a difficult time in a child’s life. I wish they had been around when I was a child. I will show them to my children who are having difficulty in understanding grief after losing their grandpa.
I think that it is really important to let children grieve their own way and find ways to comfort them. I can not imagine the empathy you now must always feel.
So lovely that there are products out there that help Emma, so heartbreaking that nay of you have to go through it at all. HUGS x
Bereavement is a horrible confusing time for adults, let alone children. These sounds like great resources especially the book. It’s awful to think of you all going through this. Lots of love xx
These do look wonderful, whilst is awful that children such as Emma have to deal with grief, at least there are resources available to help them xx
What brilliant resources for any child who’s trying to make sense of bereavement and move on with their lives. I can only begin to imagine how hard all of this is for you both. Thinking of you x
Both of these sound like a great way to support children with the process of grief. It can be such a tough thing to make sense of when they are young so it’s good to see resources like this available
They do sound like they could really help a child who has lost a loved one.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to help a child go through bereavement and I hope it’s not something I have to do for a long time. These look like great resources, thank you for such a thorough review xx
Things are so hard for an adult to cope with, let alone a child. These sound like a great resource to help
I’ve not heard of Reading Rainbows, I might have to look into them.
This is a brilliant resource for such a sensitive subject
So glad to hear these have helped Emma, it must be so hard for her to understand. And for you too xxx
So good of you to review these books, must have been really difficult yet comforting that you little one could be helped at this time x