Losing a loved one is a terrible part of life, and it can be difficult for kids to understand. Dealing with grief, and understanding loss, can be hard for adults to handle. For kids, it can be even more confusing. Talking to them about their emotions is an important step in helping children handle grief. Jalisa Rose Smith offers a book which provides talking points and journal prompts to help with these conversations. She lost her father when she was 11 and decided that she wanted to help others handle the pain of loss.
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In His Absence, I Can Still Feel His Presence by Jalisa Rose Smith tells the story of a little girl named Rose who loses her father. Rose’s story is interlaced with letters from the author to the reader. There are also prompts to discuss their own situation and add pictures of their lost loved one. Since loss and grief are heavy topics, the letters provide a nice break from the story. They also allow the author to touch base with the reader, and talk about the emotions in the situation.
The author’s faith in God helped her to handle some of her feelings on grief and loss. She offers prayers and scripture quotes throughout the letters to encourage the reader. Even if you are not a religious person, this book provides some great opportunities to talk to kids about grief. This book reminds them they will always feel the presence of their loved one, and they can make them proud.
Inspired to Help Children Handle Grief
Jalisa Rose Smith allowed me to interview her about her inspiration behind writing the book and her process in creating such a personal piece of writing. The loss of her father and growing in her faith have brought her to this mission of helping kids to handle their grief.
What inspired you to share your experiences with others?
I wrote my children’s book in loving memory of my father. I remember hearing on the news so many children were losing their parents due to gun violence. While I was sitting in my room one day, reminiscing on how I felt when I lost my father. It was not a good feeling. I was only 11 years old and I was still in school at the time. I begin to pick up my pen and started writing how I felt about it and if I was to help a child who is suffering from losing a loved one, what would I say? My words immediately turned into a story which turned into a book. It has been a blessing to help so many children through their bereavement.
How did you decide to share your experience in a children’s book?
This was a real story of how God was able to turn my negative outcome into a positive outcome to encourage children. I was now at a place where I can talk about my father’s death without getting so emotional. With my voice, I wanted to inspire and uplift my brothers and sisters through their bereavement. My father passed when I was 11 years old, so that is where the inspiration of a children’s book came from.
The style of the book is broken up by letters to the reader. I thought this helped touch base with the reader while handling delicate and sad topics. What made you decide to write the book that way?
I wanted to make my children book into a journal so that it would differentiate my book from other grieving books. Also for the children to keep writing and adding pictures in it like a keepsake book and gain strength and understanding each time they read and write in the book. On the other side of the book, it has where I encourage the children through spoken words and prayer and scripture to help them get through their bereavement.
You state in the beginning that you made lots of changes to the book before publishing it. Was there anything in particular you changed? How did you decide what was important to keep?
I changed a lot of words and content of the book because my father past 13 years ago. Their loved one could have passed recently, so I wanted to make sure I was using the correct words and content to help them in their current situation. I am now 25 years old and I wanted to also make sure they understood the different scenarios that were taking place in the book. I went through a professional editor before publishing. She was able to assist me in what she thought was important to keep and take out.
What message do you want readers to take from this book?
I want my readers to know that you can still make your loved one proud. If you ever feel like giving up in life and you feel that extra push to keep going, that is your loved one pushing you through your hardships in life. Your loved ones have the best seats in heaven and they will always be proud of your success.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and allowing me to review it! Did you do the illustrations as well?
Blueberry Illustrations, a guy name Richa did my pictures. He did an awesome job. I just describe to him the scenes and he put it together for me.
This book is a great way to start an important conversation with kids who have lost a loved one. If you know a child who is struggling with grief, you can purchase this book from the author’s website, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.