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Book: The Grief of our Children by Dianne McKissock
Reviewed by:
Dr Penny Egan-Vine - Chairperson of NALAG Albury/Wodonga

It was with pleasure that I received the request to review this work. Dianne McKissock is well known and respected for her work in supporting grieving people, in training others in that role and in raising public awareness of the needs of grieving people.

While there are several books that address the issue of children and grief, there are still people seeking more information. In the wider community there has been increased concerns for ways to help grieving children. The excellent research about, and enhanced public awareness of, the impact of childhood loss on psychological health, has led to a desire for more details and more practical idea.

Book - The Grief of Our Children
(incl postage & gst)
ISBN 0 7333 0679 9

This new book meets that need well. It provides a wide range of information that is well-researched and drawn from considerable practical experience. The presentation is pleasant and easily read. The clear index establishes a format that can be approached as a whole or through 'dipping in' for specific details. At the end of each section there are references, further reading and community resources for further support in each Australian state, and in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the USA and Canada.

The book has been divided into separate sections regarding:

  • The grief of young children
  • The grief of adult children
  • From a parent's perspective
  • Living with grief - some practical guidelines

Initially discussing the importance of supporting children in grief experiences, Dianne McKissock then looks at the different grief responses at different ages, at complicating factors and at reactions to some specific types of death and to the losses of specific people, such as parents or siblings. In particular, I appreciated the inclusion of a section on talking to children who are facing their own death.

The grief of adult children can be invisible to others and the excellent overview of "what is grief?" as well as practical steps to facilitate our own grief processes, provides a resource that will be appreciated by all ages and all walks of life.

The section addressing the grief of families, recognising the particular vulnerability to feelings of inadequacy and helplessness, is approached in the same gentle, compassionate style of the other sections, with reference to different people's stories and experience. This maintains the firm contact with "lived reality" that is evident throughout the book.

The practical ideas in the final section again reveal the depth of experience that Dianne McKissock draws upon, with self-care for grieving adults, dealing with anger, fear, sadness, and regression, with respect to the needs of grieving children. Family interactions, through the impact of parental behaviour, strategies that can become later problems, and ideas about special anniversaries, all provide a rounded picture.

My only difficulty with the book is the print size, which is a little small for my ageing eyesight. That is a very minor concern compared to the good points of this book.

It will be a most useful book for parents/grandparents wanting to help their own children. The book will also find a significant place, as a text for child-care workers, etc, in training or in the workplace, because of the depth of information and the readable style. As such it is a welcome addition to the resources available for those supporting grieving people in Australia.

Dr Penny Egan-Vine
Chairperson of NALAG Albury/Wodonga

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Central Coast Websites
Bereavement Care Centre Home Page A Friend's Place - Click Here to go to www.childhoodgrief.org.au website