We often don't know how to think about death let alone how to talk about it. Death is difficult subject for adults to grapple with and when we talk to children about it, we often do it badly. I have been incredible grateful for the funeral directors who have helped out family through death by just holding our hands and telling us what to do and where to stand. I think we often are so consumed that we forget what we should know so well and we need to rely on others.
Because the author of When My Baba Died (Marjorie Kunch) is both a mother and a mortician, she understands both sides of this grief. Despite having guided many, many families through the process of grieving and burying loved ones, she did not realize the need for something more lasting and more concrete until dealing with a death in her own family. This book was born out of her vocation as a certified funeral celebrant as much as it was out of her own grief. The picture book serves as a primary text explaining the entire process of an Orthodox Christian burial and the mourning and even discusses how any individual child might feel as they approach the services. Most of the elements of the services are shown using photographs that have been altered to resemble paintings and as such they lack detail. In this way, the larger details such as the liturgical items used in the services become more important than the smaller details, such as what each person in the photo actually looks like. It really is a practical, step by step process made very clear in an approachable way.
I think that reading this book would probably also be as helpful for parents as the children. It can serve to remind us of the deeper meanings behind what we are doing and not just going through the motions out of a stunned sense of taking orders. Sitting down and reading it with our children would remind us to draw out of ourselves and turn towards them. I know that when my father died two years ago, I had to struggle to do that. I really was grateful for a baby who needed me constantly so I didn't hide in my own grief. The primary text is approachable even to toddlers and could be read in pieces, a service at a time. The workbook is for older children who are comfortable with reading and spelling and more complex language skills such as word searches It perhaps might be more useful for some older children who might not want to talk to us directly but would rather privately reflect on these things. The workbook specifically reminds the child to talk to the priest and to parents to sort out their feelings and thoughts on these things.
I think this book and workbook are an excellent resource for Orthodox Christian parents and that you should buy them even if you think you have no immediate need of them. Death often comes as a surprise and being prepared to talk about might make the whole process easier. I know that while we had advance warning that my father was dying, my husband's father died suddenly and with no warning and we were completely unprepared for what it meant and what to do. I'm not being morbid here but rather, honest. I think we need to remember that death is a part of life, At some point you will need them and if you buy them, then you will already have them.
The book is available from many retailers; you can find the list on the Pascha Press site. The hardcover primary text retails for $25.99 and the softcover for $15.99. The workbook is softcover and retails for $10.99. Even if you don't think that you need them now, it would be a good idea to buy both the text and the workbook and put them away for the day that you do need them. Waiting for them to be delivered while you are reeling from a death would be excruciating.
I received a hardcover text and a workbook for review purposes from the author with no obligation to review nor to receive a positive review. I do not charge for reviews and I was not and will not be otherwise compensated. My thoughts and opinions are honest and are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the author and publisher. You can read all posts with reviews by clicking HERE.