Our Dad Died: The True Story of Three Kids Whose Lives Changed
By: Amy, Allie, and David Dennison
Reviewed By: Jon Henshaw, M.A.
Death of a loved one is always difficult. However, experiencing the death of a parent as a child is not only difficult, it can also be quite confusing. For most children, the idea of death is a surreal concept, often void of context and reality. Additionally, the manner in which most family and friends behave towards children (after they have lost their parent) can be equally as confusing.
Our Dad Died: The True Story of Three Kids Whose Lives Changed, approaches the death of a parent in a new way. Instead of advice from a noted expert, we get a story from three siblings who kept journals after their dad's death. This unique approach to teaching children about death is refreshing. Especially since it came from those who actually experienced it, instead of from experts who have only observed it.
The young writers invite the reader into their world. A world of hurt, anger, laughter, and annoyance. The book is written for both children and adults. Children will be able to relate to the style and content of their writing, while adults will quickly pick up on the undertones of their experiences. The three young writers take the reader from the beginning of their dad's death, onto his funeral and burial, and then through the two following years after his death. They also recap moments with their family, including a chapter dedicated solely to their grandparents.
David, one of the child authors, offers a glimpse of what it was like to go to his dad's funeral:
"It was hard to believe that Dad was in the coffin in the front of the chapel. The cover was closed so we couldn't see him. But I knew he was right there. I asked Mom if we could open it and just give him one last hug and kiss, but we couldn't. She said that his body didn't look the same without his soul, which was really the Dad part of him. His soul was already in heaven, and the body was empty and not Dad anymore. I wasn't sure about all that."
One of the best parts of the book, called "Looking Back," comes at the end of each chapter. Each one is written as an afterthought to the authors' original journal entries. They summarize and compare the events and feelings that ended up being really important, and also the ones that weren't. They also take the time to reassure young readers that their wide range of feelings and reactions are neither right or wrong, but are simply normal (under the circumstances).
Our Dad Died will help adults understand the minds and emotions of children who have lost a loved one, and will help children better grieve the loss of their parent.
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