New ACS Book for Children Addresses Grief

Ten-year-old Emily and 7-year-old Ben have just lost their mother to cancer. They are characters in a new book for children, “And Still They Bloom: A Family’s Journey of Loss and Healing” written by Amy Rovere and published by the American Cancer Society. Though Emily and Ben are fictional, the emotions they express are very realistic. The author, who serves on the editorial staff of the American Cancer Society’s Books Division, was motivated by her own experiences after her mother died of lung cancer when she was 9.

Rovere said, “This story comes from a very personal place. It’s not autobiographical and doesn’t represent what happened in my family. But because of my experience, I can relate to the feelings and questions children have when they lose a parent.”

Emily’s and Ben’s struggles with grief and their steps toward healing are expressed through conversations with their father. He helps them find acceptance through memories and keepsakes, activities such as writing and drawing, and caring for their mother’s garden.

Rovere said, “I wanted to create in the best possible circumstances how children can be helped. The father in the book is coping amazingly well, which is not usually what happens in real life. It’s meant to be an idealistic model for parents about how to help children when they experience loss.”

More than half a million children in the U.S. have a mother or father who has been diagnosed with cancer. And Still They Bloom explores loss of a parent, grief, and healing from a child’s perspective. It’s written for kids ages 8 to 12, but Rovere said adults can also benefit, by learning what children may be feeling but are unable or unwilling to express. She said grief is complicated, and children sometimes have trouble understanding and talking about their emotions.

It’s one of several books published by the American Cancer Society to teach children about cancer and help them cope with their own cancer diagnosis and treatment, or with that of a parent or other family member. Other recent titles include The Long and the Short of It, which tells the story of two girls, one a cancer survivor, and one who donates her hair.

And Still They Bloom, The Long and the Short of It, and other books published by the American Cancer Society for and about children and cancer are available for purchase through the American Cancer Society online bookstore. To learn more about cancer in children, and children coping with cancer in their family, visit our section on children and cancer.

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