Saying Goodbye to Grandma

Saying Goodbye to Grandma

Saying Goodbye to GrandmaSaying Goodbye to Grandma

Thomas, J. R.





There are other books about the death of a grandparent, but this one–focusing on the gathering of family and friends and the healing events surrounding the funeral ceremony from the point of view of seven-year-old Suzie–is particularly well done. The straightforward account begins with a two-day journey across the Midwest to Grandpa’s lakeside home and includes the joy of the family being together as well as their sorrow; it depicts a nice, strong American family at its best. The coffin is open, and Suzie touches Grandma, lovingly, one last time; when he kids escape to play among the (empty) coffins downstairs till the viewing is over, the adults wisely accept their need to play. Grandpa isn’t hungry and is heard weeping in the night; but before Suzie leaves, he has gone fishing with her, and she agrees to come to see him soon again. Using a gently muted palette with the reiteration of the orange and yellow of sunset and sunlight shining like hope, Sewall’s lovely illustrations reflect the story’s quiet mood. Her characters, carefully uspecific, could be our own Family, their postures indicating their close concern for one another.

Amazon Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Told from the point of view of a seven-year-old named Suzie, this tenderly rendered story explores the rituals of death and the loss of a loved one. When Grandma passes away, Suzie and her parents take a bittersweet car trip back to the small seaside town where Mom and Dad grew up so they can attend Grandma’s funeral and be with relatives. Feeling simultaneously nervous, curious, sad and afraid, Suzie soon discovers that funerals are a family kind of time, filled with laughter and tears and a lot of love. Thomas’s sensitive and straightforward story line follows Suzie and her family as they say goodbye to Grandma at the funeral home (where Suzie and her cousins ease the tension by playing a game of “capture the flag” in the room where the caskets are stored), attend funeral and burial services the following day and mingle with family members and friends at the huge buffet meal served afterward at the church. The text is complemented by Sewall’s primitive pastel illustrations, with simple, telling forms that convey the full emotional range of the day; this candid and comforting tale will help readers of all ages cope with the complex fears and emotions that coincide with a death in the family. Ages 6-9.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3 In this exceptionally sensible and sensitive examination of a young girl’s feelings about the death and funeral of her grandmother, Suzie’s experiences are both typical and individualized. Suzie and her parents gather with the relatives, where the children swim and play as usual and are surprised that the grownups can’t seem to eat their meals and that Grandpa cries during the night. Suzie is afraid that the funeral is what will make her grandmother truly dead and gone forever. Her apprehensions are soothed with gentle understanding by her parents, however, and she is able to participate in all of the necessary rituals of saying goodbye. Treasured memories of the dead person are shared; grief is freely expressed; and plans are made for the future: Suzie will visit Grandpa next summer and learn to cook and fish. The first-person narrative is exactly as it should be: natural, simple, and understanding. The child’s need to run and play is perfectly blended with her intense moments of sorrow and bewilderment. The tone is matter-of-fact and reassuring. Life is changed, but it goes on. The warm-hued pastel illustrations have touches of humor and plenty of lively activity to help ameliorate the somberness of the occasion, but they are always appropriate. The figures, done in quick, simple strokes, are full of expressive personality. A true picture, both happy and sad, of the experience. Patricia Pearl, First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, Va.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Amazon Reader Review

This book is a valuable reference for adults trying to explain to a child, what happens during the calling hours and funeral ritual. It also is a good book for a child who has lost a grandparent to read as well. It hits many aspects of loss, to include the phases of grief as well as the some common funeral rituals. The trip to and from grandpa’s home allowed reflection and reminiscing by the family. In doing that the child was able to learn more about grandma and to share her own times with her grandmother. . The story also shows, well , the different phases of grief among family members, ie the tears of the grandfather and the mother. There were tender moments. One such moment took place with the child and her grandfather when he spoke of his wife’s love of fishing. The child was a comfort to her grandfather. The child at one point was given the choice to attend the funeral and her decision to attend was honored. This inclusion in the decision makes the funeral less scary for a child. The child was a part of the process and was able to experience the feelings of loss, as well as the ritual, the ability to reminisce and to celebrate the life of the person who passed. This book was written very simply and in a matter of fact manner. The illustrations were soft and non threatening. I have added this book to our Hospice library and feel that it will be a good resource for our community.