Reading about death: Always and Forever

Filed under: In The News, Alcohol & Drugs, That's Entertainment

In Always and Forever, Alan Durant has presented death realistically and then provided examples of coping with it. The story centers around a family of four forest animals -- Fox, Mole, Otter, and Hare -- who live together in a house in the woods. One fall, Fox falls ill and passes away. Naturally, the other three are devastated by the loss of their friend and basically give up on life.

In the spring, however, their friend Squirrel comes to visit, asking where they have been. Squirrel stays for dinner and they begin remembering the good times they had with Fox. The friends realize that Fox is still living in their hearts and their memories and that they should honor his memory by going on with their own lives.

The illustrations, by Debi Gliori, are beautiful and depict both the animals remembering Fox and the memory. It is a compassionate tale that focuses on dealing with one's grief, rather than what happens to a person when they die. That means that those of us who do not believe in heaven will be okay with it and those who do can simply broach that subject themselves or with the aid of another book.

I'm very glad we found Always and Forever. It helped us talk about helping the deceased's family with their grief (as Squirrel did in the story) as well as how to deal with the sadness the kids (especially Jared) felt at hearing the news. I would definitely recommend this, especially if you want, as we did, to avoid the subject of heaven or any other sort of afterlife.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.