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Book Reviews: My Memory Book

A Journal for Grieving Children

by Gretchen Gaines-Lane, LCSW-C,
Second Edition, .
Paperback, ISBN: 1-888493-12-7
$10.95 each, six or more copies for $8.95 each.

About The Author
A hospice in southeastern Illinois recently ordered 100 copies of My Memory Book: A Journal for Grieving Children, Second Edition, by Gretchen Gaines-Lane. Since they have ordered this book frequently before, Chi Rho Press Editor Kevin Stone Fries wrote the principle social worker responsible for making these large orders. He inquired if she would be willing to write us and let us know her thoughts on the value of this book. Here is her review:

"I cannot compare My Memory Book to anything like it, because quite simply, I [have] found nothing like it anywhere. It is a high quality book both artistically and clinically. It provides appropriate guidance in journaling precious memories about a deceased loved one, with easily understandable topics on each page. It is a book which promotes healing and adjustment to the loss of a loved one. Too often children are not encouraged to express their memories, thoughts, or feelings after a death, and sometimes they are forgotten as the adults around them grieve. This book is a gentle catalyst for a child to deal with grieving, as well as a written document to record special times.

"Part of the beauty of this book is that the child can work at [his or her] own speed…. This is also a good tool for bringing adults and children into open discussion of the loved one, and can allow them to begin a healing walk through grief together as they use the book as a springboard for discussion.

"First of all, this is not the first book I use with children. I usually counsel them first to prepare them for the pending death (if I have that option). I use this booklet after the death, when I make a bereavement visit…I suggest they just do a little bit at a time, and that it will help to record memories while the child is young enough to remember the loved one, and that they then may look back in later years to rekindle memories. I tell them that there will be tears as they complete the pages, and that this is normal, and is OK. I often open the book, and read some titles to them, so that they will have an idea what the book is like, and can address any questions they might have. I have never had any adverse reaction to this book by any of the children or adults it was given to. Initially, adults are sometimes 'afraid' to deal openly with the death, but the giving of this book normalizes that children indeed can handle death, and I reassure them that this book is OK for the child to work with.

"With older children, [My Memory Book] becomes their very own healing tool. …. The very act of giving them their own … book (I have a separate book for grieving adults given to their parents at the same time), validated the depth of loss that the child had, a grief often neglected by the adults who were overwhelmed by their own grief. The children appreciated being recognized as having deep feelings and issues of their own.

"I really love [Gretchen's] book."

Barb, LCSW

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