Stories about feathers and telephones and grief and a little boy called Hamish …
No matter how hard we try, we cannot out-run death or grief.
Tomorrow, is the birthday of my goddaughter May who was stillborn nearly two decades ago. Tomorrow I will also be attending the funeral of my father-in-law. On the weekend a friend of mine marked the one-year anniversary of the death of her beloved husband. Last week I was with Tamra talking about how beautifully Australian Story captured the life of her daughter Emma Betts who died last year.
At some point each of us is going to have to deal with loss and the death of a loved one. And yet we live in a society so uneasy and uncomfortable with mourning and death and grief.
Last week a beautiful book arrived in the mail for me. I held my breath as I read it and then cried. Not because it was sad – more because it was so beautiful and tender.
Finn’s Feather is a children’s picture book written by Queensland author Rachel Noble. It’s the story of a little boy called Finn who finds a feather on his doorstep and immediately believes it’s a sign from his brother Hamish who died. It is the most beautiful story navigating the journey children take when they lose a loved family member. If you have a child who has lost someone — I cannot recommend this book more highly. Rachel wrote it to honour the memory of her little boy Hamish who died in 2012. It’s a beautiful uplifting story about how children find their own way to explain death and the importance of having people in their lives who can meet them where they are. It reminded how much better children can be at handling grief because they can be so open about their feelings. It’s a story of love and resilience and memory.
Then tonight on my drive home from a speaking engagement in Samford, I heard an episode of This American Life talking about the ‘wind telephone’ in Japan. When a 72 yo man lost his cousin in 2010, he built a glass telephone booth in his garden with a rotary dial phone – disconnected – inside. It’s called the ‘wind telephone’ and the idea is that anytime you feel like it you can go to the phone and talk to the loved one you lost – the message will be carried to them on the wind. Now, thousands of grieving people from all over Japan come to visit the phone to ‘call’ those they have lost.
I heard that story and thought how extraordinarily beautiful it was. Maybe if you have lost someone, you could make a little letterbox where you and your kids can post letters to a mum or dad or grandparent or friend who is no longer here. Just telling them what you wish they could know. Or maybe you could buy your own rotary phone to pick up and call when you need to connect with those you have lost.
If you have a child who is dealing with grief — order a copy of Finn’s Feather by Rachel Noble. It’s beautiful and full of love and hope. https://www.booktopia.com.au/finn-s-…/prod9781592702749.html
And you can read more about the Japanese wind telephone here: http://www.afr.com/…/japans-otsuchi-wind-phone-lets-living-…
You’ll find more books on grief here (including books for teens) at the Children’s Books Daily website: http://childrensbooksdaily.com/must-have-childrens-books-on-grief-empathy-and-feelings/
Hamish, what a legacy you have left behind. Thank you.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.