Mom and Dad Get Divorced, or the Dog Dies
by Laurie Kanyer, M.A.
If you are struggling with grief, you'll find "first aid for your soul" in Laurie Kanyer's 25 Things to Do When Grandpa Passes Away, Mom and Dad Get Divorced, or the Dog Dies: Activities to Help Children Suffering Loss or Change.
"This is a can-do book, a right-now book," says Kanyer, a parenting educator who believes that people need physical activities to work through grief. "Loss—whether it's death, divorce, a move or another significant transition—causes grief. When grief energy is not released, it can affect all areas of a child's development."
Although Kanyer orients her book to children, many of its activities will benefit adults as they strive to cope with their own grief. Children and adults may want to work together on some projects or each complete other projects. Her goal is to suggest activities that the grief-stricken can handle even when they feel overwhelmed.
"This book allows you to do something even when it seems as if there is nothing that will soothe your grief. Like a cookbook, 25 Things doesn't ask you to read a lot of text; it's written so you can open it up to an activity and follow the instructions even if you're distracted by your sense of loss."
Kanyer's book evolved from a column she wrote for the Yakima (Wash.) Herald-Republic on young parents who are terminally or chronically ill. The column led to a conference presentation on the same topic—and the presentation led her to Elizabeth Crary of Parenting Press. Crary, who has a special interest in children's emotional literacy (and has just completed a new book on the topic), asked Kanyer to address grief in children.
"Too often we don't acknowledge that there are losses other than death and we can't know what is a significant loss for a child," notes the author, who saw many troubled children in her parenting courses for recipients of TANF (the federally-financed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program which in 1997 replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children or AFDC). "In my parent group, there was poverty, violence, frequent moves—these too are losses."
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