Resources for families - Paediatric Palliative Care

Palliative Care family information brochure

KidsHealth Palliative Care information

KidsHealth Grief and Bereavement information


Useful books to explain grief to children (patients and siblings)


The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

Helpful for general separation anxiety, The Invisible String explores ongoing connection and attachment when we are not in the same place as our loved ones. This can be a useful and comforting concept to maintain connection with a loved one even when they have died. Recommended for children 6-8 years old, but can be helpful from 2-3 years onwards.


In My Heart by Jo Witek

In My Heart is a great book that talks about our many different feelings. Recommended for 2-4 year olds but can be useful for all ages.



Beginnings and Endings with Lifetimes in Between by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen

Suggested for use by families/whānau involved with paediatric palliative care. This book gives a good general overview of the fact that everything has a lifetime, some lifetimes are short and some are longer. Suitable for all age groups.



Water Bugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney

This book uses the symbolism of the transition from a water bug to a dragon fly to illustrate how how a person cannot return to life after they have died. There are some Christian thoughts around how to use the book featured after the completion of the story. Recommended for ages between 4-8 years but useful for older age groups too.


The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic

A little boy responds to his mother's death in a genuine, deeply moving story leavened by glimmers of humour and captivating illustrations. When the boy in this story wakes to find that his mother has died, he is overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and fear that he will forget her. He shuts all the windows to keep in his mother's familiar smell and scratches open the cut on his knee to remember her comforting voice. He doesn't know how to speak to his dad anymore, and when Grandma visits and throws open the windows, it's more than the boy can take--until his grandmother shows him another way to feel that his mom's love is near.

With tenderness, touches of humour, and unflinching emotional truth, Charlotte Moundlic captures the loneliness of grief through the eyes of a child, rendered with sympathy and charm in Olivier Tallec's expressive illustrations.
Suitable for 7 years and older.


I Wish I could Hold your Hand by Dr Pat Palmer

A good general overview of different types of loss. A best friend has moved away… Dad no longer lives with the family… A favourite relative or pet has died. This warm and comforting book gently helps the grieving child identify his or her feelings—from denial and anger to guilt and sadness—and learn to accept and deal with them. Expressive illustrations help children discover that it is natural to feel the pain of loss, and that they can help themselves feel better seeking the comfort they need in healthy ways. Good for all ages.



Goodbye Mog by Judith Kerr

A gentle book about the death of an old much adored family cat. The floating spirit in each of the colour cartoon illustrations may elicit questions that require some thoughtful adult answers like the welcoming of a new kitten while knowing that their favourite cat will not be forgotten.
Recommended for age 3 upwards.



Sad Isn't Bad – A Good-grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing with Loss by Michaelene Mundy

This book gives guidance about grief, feeling sad, and how to manage it with some Christian influences. Recommended for all ages.



When Dinosaurs Die - A Children's Guide to Understanding Death by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

This straight forward book answers many of the questions that children may ask: from why people die to how different cultures have varied bereavement rituals. It starts by explaining what “being alive” means, explores the responses children may have when someone they love has died, and how to remember them after they have died.

“When Dinosaurs Die” discusses several ways in which a person can die in a clear and simple manner including violence, drugs or that they may take their own lives. Recommend for ages 4-8 years.



The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

An original fable about need and loss. Once there was a Fox who lived in a deep, dense forest. For as long as Fox could remember, his only friend had been Star, who lit the forest paths each night. But then one night Star was not there, and Fox had to face the forest all alone. The Fox and the Star is a work of prose and design, each page thoughtfully created.



The Next Place by Warren Hanson

A beautifully illustrated book about what happens after someone has died, The Next Place is comforting for bereaved adults and children. Recommended for 5 years and above.