Some information for parents
All Shining in the Spring is a book for parents to read with their children. It’s not, fortunately, a book for every child, but I hope and believe it will help those families for whom the loss of a baby is a reality, and also those children whose friends or cousins or classmates may have had an experience like this in their families.
It would be a good idea to read the book yourself first and make sure you are comfortable with it before reading it to a child. You may find it upsetting on a first reading and you won’t want to upset your child; but if you give it a little time, I hope you will find you are ready to share it.
I wrote this book many years ago for my own son. I am not any kind of expert. I’m just a woman who has had a certain life experience – a stillbirth – that I handled in my own way. This experience impinged not just on me and my husband but also on my son, who was six at the time. It seemed very obvious to me that my child needed as much as we did to grieve, and that he needed to be given explicit permission to do that. My way of giving him that permission was to write our story, very simply, for him.
Not being a psychologist, I didn’t have any theories about all this. I just followed my instinct, and maybe that is what gave the story its power. Certainly psychologists I have discussed my book with since then seem to think I was on the right track. This is what an experienced psychotherapist said to me recently:
“Grieving is the work our minds have to undertake to keep us healthy … This book opens up an opportunity to discuss some important issues about miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of a small child both for parents and for the other children in the family. If we don’t have the capacity to grieve and mourn, then the pain and the rage provoked by loss can go unprocessed for an entire lifetime and may only come to the surface if a similar incident happens in the next generation of the family, when it can make itself felt as an explosion of grief and rage.”
Maria McGrane MSc, child and adolescent psychotherapist
It still seems to me that just as it is important that we as adults work our way through our feelings of loss, so children, whose grief may be hidden or suppressed or expressed as fear or anger, need to be given the opportunity to grieve also.
It’s hard, though, for parents who are in mourning thenselves to talk to their children about such a painful subject. If a child is saying nothing, maybe the parent takes this as a sign that the child isn’t really concerned. I can totally understand parents’ reluctance to open up a painful conversation, especially if they believe they may be upsetting or frightening their child. All I can say is that being allowed to talk about what happened in our family and cry about it and talk about it some more definitely helped my son at the time, and I know it has also helped many other families who came across All Shining in the Spring at a time when they needed it. That’s why Little Island has reissued it.
Happily, the death of a baby is not all that common an event but still there are families, sadly, for whom this book will be of some help, and if yours is such a family, I really hope it will bring some comfort at a very sad time.
Below is a list of organisations who may be able to help you.
Thanks for reading.
Supporting Children with Bereavement and Parental Separation
Lily Mae Foundation
Supporting Parents & Families after a Stillbirth, Neonatal Death, Miscarriage or Medical Termination
Providing specialist counselling after baby loss
Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Association of Ireland
Supporting Suddenly Bereaved Parents & Families