Book Review - Always and Forever
One way we supported our niece and nephew to process the death of their Mummy was by reading books. There are lots of great books out there which deal with death and bereavement. Some are great, some not so great. Each month we are going to review a book and share how helpful we found this book to be.
Always and Forever by Debi Gliori and Alan Durant is a story about a woodland family. It begins by describing the family unit and what everyones roles within the family are. Which is all very lovely, but then “one morning fox went out alone into the woods and didn’t come back”. For us, this just isn’t a true enough representation of what dying actually is. Yes, people die suddenly; our niece and nephew’s Mummy did. But we seriously doubt that children will be able to relate to the concept of someone talking a stroll in the woods and dying. Niece read this book to herself one night last week. The following day we asked her for her thoughts. She said it was a good book. BUT. We then asked her “how did it make you feel when fox died?” To which she replied “he didn’t die, he just went away and never came back”. Which really just reiterates our issue with that part of the book. This is exactly why you have to be open and honest with children about death. This part of the book just is not relatable for children who have been spoken to truthfully about death. However, it then goes on to deal with the scarcely spoken about topic of finding somebody dead. It also describes the funeral simply and sensitively.
The main bulk of the book looks into how Hare, Otter and Mole deal with Fox’s death. To begin with, the animals do not like remembering things about Fox as it makes them sad. This is obviously something that anyone who is dealing with loss will be able to connect with. The book also highlights the importance of spending time with friends in order to cheer you up. The animals then begin to remember silly and happy memories about Fox. Once they feel happy, there is no mention of feeling sad ever again. This is another issue we have with the book. Yes, it does become easier to talk about the person you love and miss, BUT, this does not mean that those sad days and moments completely disappear. They still hit you in the gut when you least expect it. So in that sense, this book does not prepare children to expect those feelings to continues. There isn’t always a light at the end of the tunnel.
But, the book does explore some lovely ideas around how you can remember someone who has died, such as making a special garden or having a bench in their memory (this is something we really want to do as there is nowhere our niece and nephew can currently visit to remember their Mummy). Our favourite part of the entire book is the last page:
Overall, we are giving this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.