Grieving author Jess Childs writes book to help children

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Media caption,
Author Jess Childs was inspired by a poem she wrote for her late father's memorial service

An author grieving for both of her parents has written a book to help children deal with tragedies.

Jess Childs' father took his own life in 2006 and her mother from cancer, last year.

Since then the Welsh mum-of-two has worried about the effect coronavirus pandemic was having on children.

Her debut book Ivy and the Rock offers a tale of love and loss that she aims to unpack the "big issues for little people".

Ms Childs, who grew up near Hay-on-Wye but now lives near Cardiff, said family bereavements she has experienced before and during the pandemic have meant having to also help her two daughters, aged three and five, to understand it.

Developed from a poem she originally wrote and recited at her father's funeral, the author said the book took on a new poignancy when she also lost her mother to a five-year battle with cancer last November.

Image source, Jess Childs
Image caption,
Jess Childs has two daughters, aged five and three

Ivy and the Rock follows a young girl who loves the rock she has found in a forest, but finds one day it has rolled away.

She said it looks at bereavement "in an honest, yet child-friendly way", looking at not just deaths but "important themes of recovery, acceptance, and re-growth".

"Life deals us all some pretty challenging cards at times, and when we lost dad - when I was still an adolescent myself - I was forced on a tough but important journey which over time led to acceptance, understanding, and ultimately personal growth," Ms Childs said.

"More recently we had to say goodbye to our beloved mum, but this time I find myself with the added challenge of supporting my two young girls to process this huge loss as well.

Image source, Jess Childs
Image caption,
Jess Childs said her own experiences with grief have made her want to "unpack big issues for little people"

"Add to this the fact that we are living in a pandemic with a tragic death toll, overwhelming media coverage and a barrage of public health messages, and you can't help but worry about the effect it is having on anxiety among children."

"Although the book was developed before the pandemic, to my mind there has never been a greater need for age-appropriate explanations of love and the acceptance of loss in our lives," the author said.

She said she hopes it "helps our tiniest minds make sense of life's greatest inevitability."