Gosport author pens book trilogy to help children deal with bereavement and anxiety
A GOSPORT woman has been inspired by her own grief and anxiety to pen a trilogy of books to help children’s mental wellbeing when dealing with traumatic events.
Three years ago Clare Shaw, 40, decided to write a poem to help her own children who were struggling to deal with the six-month deployment of their father, Toby Shaw, as part of his role working for the Ministry of Defence.
Clare said: ‘It had got to the point where my youngest son, Austin, who was six at the time, wouldn’t go to school as he was afraid I wouldn’t be there when he returned. I decided to write a poem to help us both deal with Toby not being around.
‘I showed the poem to my friend who was a deputy headteacher and she asked me to come into school and read it to her services children. The response I got was amazing.’
Clare then decided to add some illustrations and interactive activities such as a countdown calendar, favourite toys associated with parents and a picture of a sweet jar.
‘It’s very hard for children to comprehend time. However, if you fill a sweet jar with sweets for the number of days a parent is away then as they take each one out they have a visual reference as to how long until mum or dad comes home,’ she said.
After seeing the positive impact on her own children, Clare decided to publish the book entitled Sometimes.
During this period Clare was undergoing therapy for her own mental health issues which had been ongoing since the death of her brother, Andrew Ord, who died when she was just 11. It was this experience which acted as Clare’s inspiration for her second publication, Love Will Never Die, which helps children deal with bereavement.
‘My brother was only 18 when he died. He was buried on Christmas Eve. There was no bereavement counselling at that time and I didn’t really know how to deal with it,’ she said.
The book is again in the format of a poem with pages set aside for children to write about their feelings and to ask questions. It also gives advice as to items to put into a memory box.
‘Hundreds of funeral directors’ have now adopted the book as part of the care packages they offer families.
Caroline Pelley from Solent Funeral Services said: ‘This is an amazing book that helps children come to terms and accept the loss of a loved one. It has been written for a child in a way that a child can understand. I love the fact that it’s kept completely neutral in terms of religion and allows the child to decide for themselves where they can seek solace and remembrance of their loved ones.’
Clare’s latest book, At Times I Get These Feelings, was written at the request of her sister, who is a teacher, in response to the growing number of children dealing with mental health issues.
‘With one in five children having a diagnosable mental health condition this is a massive issue which hopefully the book can help with,’ she said.
In her mission to get the book into as many schools as possible, Clare has waived any profit and is hoping to get sponsorship to cover the costs.
‘We have so far delivered more than 100 books to Gosport schools thanks to the help of four local businesses,’ she said.
Clare’s books can be purchased on Amazon or via her website at http://cskidsbooks.com/news/