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Resources for Parents and Families Who Have Lost a Child to Cancer

The following list of books, Web sites, and organizations may provide information and support for adults who are dealing with the death of a child. There are also resources for helping other children in the family who have lost a brother or sister. Some of these resources may also be helpful for those who have lost an adult child or adult sibling.

Books and reading materials*

For parents

A Broken Heart Still Beats: After Your Child Dies, by Anne McCracken and Mary Semel. Published by Hazelden Publishing, 2000.

After the Darkest Hour the Sun Will Shine Again: A Parent's Guide to Coping With the Loss of a Child, by Elizabeth Mehren and Harold S. Kushner. Published by Fireside, 1997.

Grief, Bereavement, and Coping with Loss (PDQ®) from the National Cancer Institute. Can be found at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/bereavement/patient, or call 1-800-422-6237 for a copy.

Beyond Tears: Living After Losing a Child, by Ellen Mitchell, Rita Volpe, Ariella Long, and others. St. Martin's Press, 2009.

Grieving: How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies, by Theresa A. Rando. Lexington Books, 1995.

Healing a Parent's Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Child Dies, by Alan D. Wolfelt. Published by Landmark, 2002.

How to Survive the Loss of a Child: Filling the Emptiness and Rebuilding Your Life, by Catherine M. Sanders. Published by Three Rivers Press, 1998.

Relative Grief: Parents and Children, Sisters and Brothers, Husbands, Wives and Partners, Grandparents and Grandchildren Talk About Their Experience of Death and Grief, by Judy Merry and Clare Jenkins. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2005.

The Bereaved Parent, by Harriet Sarnoff Schiff. Penguin, 1978.

The Worst Loss: How Families Heal From the Death of a Child, by Barbara D. Rosof. Holt Paperbacks, 1995.

Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart, by Alan Wolfelt. Companion Press, 2004.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold S. Kushner. Anchor, 2004.

When the Bough Breaks: Forever after the Death of a Son or Daughter, by Judith R. Bernstein. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1998.

For adults helping a child who has lost a brother or sister

35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child, The Dougy Center Staff, 1999. Dougy Center, 1999. (Find contact information in the “On the Web” section below; also available in Spanish.)

Talking With Children About Loss: Words, Strategies, and Wisdom To Help Children Cope With Death, Divorce, and Other Difficult Times, by Maria Trozzie. Perigee Trade, 1999.

The Grieving Child, a Parent's Guide, by Helen Fitzgerald. Touchstone, 1992.

Helping Children Cope With Death, by Donna L. Schuurman. The Dougy Center, 1998. (Find contact information in the “On the Web” section below; also available in Spanish.)

Helping Children Cope With the Loss of a Loved One: A Guide for Grownups, by William C. Kroen. Free Spirit Publishing, 1996.

Helping Teens Cope with Death, The Dougy Center, 1999. (Find contact information in the “On the Web” section below; also available in Spanish.)

Unspoken Grief: Coping with Childhood Sibling Loss, by Helen Rosen. Lexington Books, 1990.

For children and teens who have lost a sister or brother

A Complete Book About Death for Kids, by Earl Grollman and Joy Johnson. The Centering Corporation, 2006. (Can be ordered from http://centering.org/.) For all ages.

Am I Still a Sister? by Alicia Sims. The Centering Corporation, 1998. (Can be ordered from http://centering.org/.) For ages 4 to 12.

After the Funeral, by Jane Loretta Winsch. Paulist Press, 1995. For ages 4 to 8.

Always and Forever, by Alan Durant and Debi Gliori. Harcourt Children's Books, 2004. For preschool to grade 3.

Don't Despair on Thursdays!: The Children's Grief-Management Book (The Emotional Impact Series), by Adolph Moser and David Melton. Landmark Editions, 1996. For ages 9 to 12.

Fire in My Heart: Ice in My Veins: A Journal for Teenagers Experiencing a Loss, by Enid Samuel-Traisman. The Centering Corporation, 2002. (Can be ordered from http://centering.org/.) For teens.

Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies, by Janis L. Silverman. Fairview Press, 1999. For ages 4 to 8.

I Know I Made It Happen, by Lynn Bennett Blackburn. The Centering Corporation, 2008. (Can be ordered from http://centering.org/.) For ages 4 to 12.

I Miss You: A First Look At Death, by Pat Thomas and Lesley Harker. Barron's Educational Series, 2001. For ages 4 to 8.

Lost and Found: Remembering a Sister, by Ellen Yeomans. The Centering Corporation, 2008. (Can be ordered from http://centering.org/.) For ages 4 to 8.

My Grieving Journey Book, by Donna Shavatt and Eve Shavatt. Paulist Press, 2002. Hands-on activity book for ages 5 and up.

Since My Brother Died, by Marisol Munoz-Kiehne. The Centering Corporation, 2008. Includes sections for parents/caregivers and teachers as well as a child’s story. (Can be ordered from http://centering.org/; includes Spanish translation.) For ages 4 to 12.

The Dying and Bereaved Teenager, edited by John D. Morgan. The Charles Press Publishers, 1990. For ages 12 and up.

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages, by Leo F. Buscaglia. Slack Inc., 1982. For ages 4 and up.

The Saddest Time (An Albert Whitman Prairie Book), by Norma Simon and Jacqueline Rogers. Albert Whitman & Company, 1986. For ages 6 and up.

Transitions Along the Way: A Guide to the Dying Process for Children and Young Adults, by Stephanie Jonah. Visions, 1999. For ages 9 and up.

When Bad Things Happen: A Guide to Help Kids Cope (Elf-Help Books for Kids), by Ted O'Neal and Robert W. Alley. One Caring Place, 2003. Based on belief in God. For ages 5 to 12.

*Inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.

On the Web*

The Compassionate Friends
Toll-free number: 1-877-969-0010
Web site: www.compassionatefriends.org

    Support for parents and siblings who have lost children of any age and from any cause, in the form of brochures, electronic newsletters, local support groups, and phone support. Some chapters have groups for children 12 and older.

Telephone: 734-761-1960
Web site for adults: www.griefnet.org
Web site for children: http://kidsaid.com/

    Information on grief and bereavement; online and e-mail groups for adult grief support; separate supervised online support groups for children under 12 and for teens (with consent from parent or guardian)

Centering Corporation
Toll-free number: 1-866-218-0101
Web site: www.centering.org

    Information, books, and many other resources on bereavement and loss for children and adults; also has materials in Spanish

The Dougy Center
Toll-free number: 1-866-775-5683
Web site: www.dougy.org

    Information, books, DVDs, and online activities for grieving children, teens, young adults, and their families. They refer to programs across the country and around the world that serve to help children in grief. Some support groups offered, even for very young children.

Bereaved Parents of the USA (BP/USA)
Telephone: 708-748-7866
Web site: bereavedparentsusa.org

    Online information and support, newsletters, support group meetings, and annual gatherings for parents who have lost a child of any age, as well as support for siblings and grandparents

Toll-free number: 1-888-417-4704
Web site: www.supersibs.org

    Aimed at the 4-to-18-year-old sisters and brothers of children diagnosed with cancer; also offers a grief support package and ongoing support for children who have lost a brother or sister to cancer

*Inclusion on these lists does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.

No matter who you are, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night, for information and support. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

Last Medical Review: 06/28/2012
Last Revised: 06/28/2012