This is the book I wish I had written after my friend died, and I’m sharing this book review on what would have been her 45th birthday. It is a chronicle of grief and friendship. It is beautiful and heartbreaking. You’ll be privileged to learn how these two met, how they spent their days together, Caroline’s diagnosis, illness, and death, and how Gail copes with the death of her best friend.
Every time I read this book, I cry. I know what is going to happen. On the very first page, we read, “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything , and then she died and so we shared that too.” I hope you’ll read this book. I hope you’ll read this book with a friend or a book group. I hope reading this book will inspire you to reach out to those you love and tell them how much they mean to you. I hope this book will remind you that death is part of life and even though it is hard, we do not need to fear death. I hope you’ll read this book and encourage other people to read it too.
“The belief that life was hard and often its worst battles were fought in private; it was possible to walk through fear and come out scorched but still breathing” (78).
“It’s taken years for me to understand that dying doesn’t end the story; it transforms it” (123).
“The only education in grief that any of us get is a crash course. Until Caroline died I had belonged to that other world, the place of innocence and linear expectations, where I thought grief was a simple, wrenchingly realm of sadness and longing that gradually recede. What that definition left out was the body blow that loss inflicts, as well as the temporary madness, and a range of less straightforward emotions shocking in their intensity” (150).
Explaining and understanding death is complex and difficult for adults. How can we help children when someone they love dies? Although there is not one easy answer, I highly recommend this book. In this short storybook, water bugs are changed into dragonflies. The water bugs do not know where their loved ones have gone. The dragonflies cannot go back to explain all is well to the water bugs. It is a simple and beautiful way of explaining that our loved ones are fine and one day we’ll be changed too. The story ends with a prayer for the one who has died that can be prayed together with a child. And at the end of the book, you’ll find helpful words for parents as they’ll most likely be grieving too while trying to explain death to their children.
In my work with children, youth, and families, I was always searching for great ideas and resources to share with others. One of the resources that I highly recommend is Traci’s Smith, Faithful Families. In this new book, you’ll find all the information you need to create a variety of spiritual practices for your family or for yourself. My review of the book will be shared soon, and in the meantime, I’d like to highlight one of the practices from the book.
Earth Day is coming up soon and Traci does a wonderful job of helping us combine celebrating Earth Day with God’s love of creation. (In fact, all of the practices are ways of acknowledging God’s presence and our connectedness to God and each other in our regular, daily lives).
Earth Day-Feeding the Birds begins with a brief reflection and introduction. “This practice is designed to help children honor creation every year on Earth day by reading the creation story and making a bird feeder” (56). This practice is recommended for ages 4 and up and can be completed with only pipe cleaners and O-shaped cereal. You can make this bird feeder in about 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll want to gather your family outside on Earth Day with a Bible and bird feeder making supplies. Read Genesis 1 together. Next you’ll talk about creation as a family. You can use the question provided like “What is your favorite part of creation?” (56) or use your own questions. To create the bird feeder you simply string the cereal on the pipe cleaner and bend it into the shape of a ring. Place your bird feeder on a tree and say a prayer together.
Each practice includes notes and variations to help you. The practices are written as a script so you can easily follow along or pass the book to older children or other family members to share the reading responsibility. The script includes options for everything you need to say including prayers, introductions, and questions. As you can see from the Earth Day practice, the intention of the practices in this book is to make it easy for your family to find ways to “create sacred moments at home.”
I hope you’ll spend some time out in creation on Earth Day creating sacred moments. And I hope you’ll add the book, Faithful Families, to your family library and your church library. For more information about this book and many other resources, please visit http://www.traci-smith.com.
I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review of this book.
There’s a Woman in the Pulpit
When God Was a Little Girl
David R. Weiss
Illustrations by Joan Hernandez Lindeman
What Did Jesus Ask?
Christian Leaders Reflect on His Questions of Faith