Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Review: In Loving Memory by Lacie Brueckner and Katherine Pendergast

Today's review is one that hits a fresh note with our own family, and one I was hesitant to put up before the holidays. But I'm glad I did because this is a lovely read, which has been done with much thought and does know how to address children of the intended age group.

A Child's Journey to Understanding a Fuenral and Starting the Grieving Process
by Lacie Brueckner and Katherine Pendergast 
Picture Book
ages 4 to 10

The coauthor Lacie Brueckner has been a funeral director serving families since 2005. She has always taken a special interest in meeting the needs of children during the funeral process. She has found that most children want to feel included in the funeral too.

In this story a young girl named Harper has lost her grandma. Through gentle words and soft illustrations Harper learns what a funeral looks like and how she can participate. Harper and her family also take you through her journey of starting the grieving process.

A child who has lost someone near and dear to them can learn from young Harper experience.

Harper learns the following throughout her journey:
-Death is a natural part of life. Harper learns that plants, animals, and people live and die.
-Bodies go through natural changes when we die, so our bodies might look a little different. Through beautiful illustrations, Harper sees an open casket visitation, funeral, and grave side services.
-Each child might have a different comfort level when it comes to participating in a funeral. Harper’s parents allow her to decide how much she wants to participate in the funeral process by asking if she would like to see the body. They also ask if she is comfortable getting up and sharing a special memory of her grandma.
-Feeling different emotions is natural. Sometimes emotions come and go long after the funeral. Harper’s mom helps her do special activities that remind her of her grandma.
-Harper learns that our loved ones are always in our hearts long after the funeral. There are pages for your child to write or draw memories and ideas on what they can do to remember their loved one.



This book takes a more concrete approach to a loved one's death, when compared with other books on the topic, which I've read. Step-by-step, this one takes a young listener through the entire funeral process, showing them exactly what least, what is considered customary in the U.S. The authors have seeped in details, which adults often don't think about, but children are affected by, and this, I appreciated. There are also ideas on how to honor the memory of a loved one as well as encouragement to help guide a bit into the grieving process.

The illustrations are done with care, making the situations clear, while keeping the characters subtle and gentle. The text is a bit on the heavier side, at times, making this a read-aloud for those up the age of four. But then, this isn't a book I'd give over to a child to read by themselves, simply due to the subject matter. The text does present a family going through the process, including a little dialogue and such. All of it is done with great care.

While I took a look at the book concerning the viewing type of funeral, the authors have also brought one out, which centers more on the cremation process. Obviously, this book isn't for everyone, and caretakers/guardians/parents need to glance through it themselves before they present it to their young listener. The book does lead to discussions, but then, that's also a bit of the point. I do respect the openness presented in these pages, especially since adults often get so caught up in their own grieving and the preparations, that they forget younger readers do not necessarily know what they will exactly be doing. This does soften that blow.

For those, who are facing the death of a closed loved one and would enjoy a little guidance, this is a lovely read and done with much care and concern.

And here they are...

Lacie has been a funeral director serving families since 2005. She takes a special interest in meeting the needs of children during the funeral process, as they very much want and need to feel included, too. In her experience, she has found that including them and letting them lead the way in how much they want to be included, usually works the best. Lacie is a North Dakota native and lives there with her husband and 5 children. She has always had an interest in writing and was honored to co-author this book.

Katherine lost her mom many years ago, and one of her favourite memories of her mom was on her last Mother’s Day. They planted petunias and went out for ice cream. Now, every Mother’s Day, Katherine plants petunias at her house not because they are her favourite but because they remind her of this special memory with her mom. Katherine lives with her family and two dogs in Bismarck, North Dakota. She has also written several other books, including her award-winning books Pickles the Dog: AdoptedPickles the Dog: A Christmas Tradition, and Babies of the Badlands.

You’ll find further information by visiting the Kat’s Socks website and finding more on Facebook and Instagram.

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