New children's book offers comfort for grieving youngsters dealing with loss

AN ORDAINED minister and funeral celebrant is helping grieving youngsters who have lost a loved one with the publication of a children’s book.

Jo Siddall is one of the assistant chaplains at Rotherham Hospital, a chaplain at Rotherham Hospice and works as a civil celebrant and minister, taking funerals.

The 47-year-old is also group co-ordinator for the Rotherham SoBS Group (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide) and has worked for many years with grieving families.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She decided to put pen to paper and write a short book, My Grown-up Has Died, under the pen name Jo A. Siddall, to help children dealing with bereavement after hearing a horror story from a youngster.

“I once asked a little girl whose daddy had died, ‘What do you think happens at a funeral?’,” said Jo.

“The little girl, who was about five years old, started telling me all about vampires, ghosts and creepy coffins.

“She went on to describe graveyards with skeletons, not to mention a few green monsters thrown in, too.  

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I realised she was either describing an episode of Scooby Doo, or the Hallowe’en aisle in Asda.  

“Either way, what she anticipated in her mind was not quite what she would experience at East Herringthorpe Crematorium!”

The married mum of three went on to write the book as a gentle poem that covers some of the emotions of grief and loss.

“Although there are resources to help children who grieve, there seemed to be nothing out there that specifically spoke into or offered guidance for the time between the actual death of the ‘grown-up’ and the funeral service,” said Jo.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This is a particularly stressful time and children can feel lost, excluded and unsure of what is happening around them.”

The book features watercolour illustrations by Raquel Paolini and the final page gives space for a child to draw their own grown-up and place a photograph inside to help them remember.  

Excerpts include “I will try to be brave and strong and good. But crying is fine, if I need to I should”, and: “After the funeral I am not going to worry. There will be family and friends. No-one leaves in a hurry.”

Jo — who lived in Rotherham for nine years when she was the Methodist superintendent and runs her own business, Patchwork Promises and Soul Stories — said: “The book is written from a Christian perspective and brings out the hope of heaven.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

My Grown-up Has Died is published by Small World Big Imagination Ltd and available to order from Waterstones and Amazon.

The newly-published author is expecting her next book, about remembering, to be out in the summer.

Related topics: