Death Positive Libraries

Death positive libraries aim to remove the barriers to talking about death and dying.

Almost 80% of British adults find it difficult to talk about death, even though we all have to face it. Not talking about death, not getting the right support and advice at the right time and the suffering that people go through when a loved one dies or when they are facing death themselves, puts enormous strain on mental health and wellbeing. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for supportive services for bereaved individuals, at a time of vulnerability and low resilience.

Working with Libraries Connected and following on from pilot schemes in Redbridge, Kirklees and Newcastle Library services we are launching five Death Positive Hubs in early April 2022.

Libraries are uniquely placed to be a centre for bereavement support as well as a trusted space where conversations about death and dying can take place with caring staff on hand to help.

The Hubs, which are located across the county, to ensure as many people as possible can benefit from this project, will offer

  • A specially chosen collection of books for adults offering practical information and guidance
  • A collection of books for children, which use relatable stories to help initiate conversations about death
  • Trained staff who are comfortable talking about death and able to provide practical guidance for those seeking further professional support
  • Resources containing QR codes, directing customers to our webpages and signposting to relevant support services

Our five hubs, which are based in Basingstoke Discovery Centre, Chandler’s Ford Library, New Milton Library, Stubbington Library and Waterlooville Library; will also be working in partnership with specialist charities, organisations and businesses who support those who are dying or bereaved. These partnerships will enable us to offer practical and supportive events and activities in the Death Positive hubs later this year.

Existing services within libraries will also be helpful for people seeking support within Death Positive Hubs: social groups such as ‘Knit and Knatter’ or Scrabble club, access to digital information through our public network computers and WIFI and drop-in advice clinics such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Over time new groups and services will be offered, such as Death Cafes and special story times hosted by children’s bereavement specialists. We will be working with our Learning in Libraries team to offer a bespoke programme of learning too, covering a range of topics including, grief management, tackling end of life conversations, confidence building and wellbeing.

Our Death Positive books will be available in the five hubs and through Borrowbox. For physical copies, browse our online catalogue and, for a small charge, reserve the book or books you would like to pick up at your local library.

We will invite feedback from customers regarding the Death Positive booklist, exploring how useful particular titles are and suggestions for improving the collection.

Coping with Death

When someone a child loves dies it can be very difficult for them to understand what has happened.  Whether they have lost a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend or pet, the emotions may be overwhelming.  Sharing a story about someone else dying can help to explain things in a less frightening way, and cuddling up with a book can be very comforting for both grown-up and child.


book cover

A Place in My Heart – Annette Aubrey and Patrice Barton

The rhyme is initially off putting but the story is saying all the right things. The illustrations complement the story well and are clear and expressive. Notes for parents and teachers at the back of the book make a useful starting point for discussion.
Age: 4+


book cover

Granpa – John Burningham

A gentle evocation of conversations between a grandfather and his small granddaughter, culminating in her acceptance of his death.
Age: 4+


book cover

Up In Heaven – Emma Chichester Clark

It’s only when Daisy, Arthur’s dog, sends him dreams from heaven that he is able to cope with her death and move on to consider a new dog.
Age: 5+


If all the world were… – Joseph Coelho

Depicts a wonderful relationship between a grandfather and his granddaughter. When grandfather dies her wonderful memories help him live on.
Age
4+


book cover

Missing Mummy – Rebecca Cobb

This book looks at the death of a parent from the point of view of a young child.  It explores the range of emotions a child may experience, but also reminds the child that they are still part of a family.
Age: 3+


book cover

Always and Forever – Alan Durant and Debi Gliori

Animals take comfort in remembering a lost friend and realise that he is still in their hearts and memories.
Age: 3+


book cover

Missing Jack – Rebecca Elliott

This delightful book addresses the difficult subject of a child’s first experience of the death of a pet with warmth, sensitivity and well placed humour.
Age: 2+


When someone dies – Dawn Hewitt

A useful book to use to explain what happens when someone dies and how to deal with grief. It has a suggestions section on ‘Things to do ‘ and ‘Notes for parents and teachers’.
Age 4+


book cover

Remembering Crystal – Sebastian Loth

Goose and Tortoise are good friends. When Tortoise dies, Goose finds that remembering happy times helps her cope with her sadness.
Age: 4+


book cover

The Scar – Charlotte Moundlic

This picture book for older readers captures the loneliness of grief through the eyes of a child.
Age: 5+


book cover

Pearl – Sally Murphy

Pearl’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s and eventually dies. Pearl finds a way to cope by writing a poem that she reads out at the funeral.
Age: 7+


The Garden of Hope – Isabel Otter

Mum has died and the little girl and her father try to restore the garden her mother loved. The plants and animals in the garden bring hope for the family as they move on.
4+


Let’s Talk about When Someone Dies – Molly Potter

A discussion book covering feelings, funerals, why people die and how to remember them. There is a guidance section for Parents and Carers.
Age
6+


book cover

Sad Book – Michael Rosen

Drawing on his own experience of his son’s death, Michael Rosen looks at what makes people feel sad. Beautifully illustrated by Quentin Blake and appropriate for children and adults.
Age: 7+


book cover

Badger’s Parting Gifts – Susan Varley

As badger prepares to die, to go ‘down the long tunnel’, he leaves behind a simple note. His friends grieve, but find comfort in remembering the way each had been helped by badger.
Age: 5+


book cover

Goodbye Grandma – Melanie Walsh

In this reassuring lift-the-flap book a little boy asks his mum some important questions about death and bereavement.
Age: 3+


A Tiger Tale – Holly Webb

After Granddad dies Kate can’t understand how people can laugh and joke as if nothing has changed.  Comfort comes from an unexpected source.
Age: 7+


book cover

Harry & Hopper – Margaret Wild & Freya Blackwood

The illustrations in this book are very atmospheric and use a range of styles. This is a sensitive story about the death of a pet, and looks at how the child deals with letting go.
Age: 3+


book cover

The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair – Lara Williamson

Dad has run away in the middle of the night, taking Becket and his little brother Billy with him.  They have left everything behind, including their almost-mum Pearl.  The central theme of this book is of saying goodbye – the their late mother, to Pearl, to a sister, even to Brian the snail.
Age: 9+


Useful Organisations

CHUMS
CHUMS has developed a unique service delivery model to ensure that children and young people are able to access a service that supports their individual needs.

CRUSE
Bereavement Care: helping those who have been affected by a death

Bereavement

When someone a child loves dies it can be very difficult for them to understand what has happened.  Whether they have lost a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend or pet, the emotions may be overwhelming.  Sharing a story about someone else dying can help to explain things in a less frightening way, and cuddling up with a book can be very comforting for both grown-up and child.


Image result for A place in my heart / Annette Aubrey ; illustrated by Patrice Barton.

A Place in My Heart
by Annette Aubrey and Patrice Barton

The rhyme is initially off putting but the story is saying all the right things. The illustrations complement the story well and are clear and expressive. Notes for parents and teachers at the back of the book make a useful starting point for discussion.
Age: 4+


Granpa
by John Burningham

A gentle evocation of conversations between a grandfather and his small granddaughter, culminating in her acceptance of his death.
Age: 4+


Up In Heaven
by Emma Chichester Clark

It’s only when Daisy, Arthur’s dog, sends him dreams from heaven that he is able to cope with her death and move on to consider a new dog.
Age: 5+


If all the world were…
by Joseph Coelho

Depicts a wonderful relationship between a grandfather and his granddaughter. When grandfather dies her wonderful memories help him live on.
Age 4+


No Longer Alone
by Joseph Coelho

This touching picture book subtly deals with big emotions such as loss, with an uplifting and hopeful message about being yourself and the importance of family and talking about worries. Told through the voice of a little girl who is labelled as quiet and shy, ‘No Longer Alone’ follows her tumult of emotions as she navigates the world around her. But when she finally shares her feelings and tells her Dad all the things that are worrying her, she no longer feels so alone.
Age 3+


Missing Mummy
by Rebecca Cobb

This book looks at the death of a parent from the point of view of a young child.  It explores the range of emotions a child may experience, but also reminds the child that they are still part of a family.
Age: 3+


Waiting for Wolf
by Sandra Dieckmann

Fox and Wolf spend all their perfect days together – talking and laughing for hours, swimming together in the big blue lake, and watching the stars come out, one by one. Until one day, Wolf is gone. This is a moving tale of friendship and loss and learning to carry on.
Age: 5+


Image result for Always and forever book

Always and Forever
Alan Durant and Debi Gliori

Animals take comfort in remembering a lost friend and realise that he is still in their hearts and memories.
Age: 3+


Clownfish
by Alan Durant
Age range: 10+


Dak’s dad has been dead for seven days when suddenly he reappears. He’s the same in almost every way, with one startling exception: Dad has turned into a clownfish, and now lives in a tank at their local aquarium. Dak is delighted by the news – he has Dad back, even if he isn’t quite as he was before. Deciding to keep Dad’s transformation a secret, Dak visits him at the aquarium as often as he can and ends up spending so much time there that they offer him a job. This is how he comes to meet Violet, the owner’s prickly but kind-hearted niece; when the aquarium is threatened with closure, the pair must work together to save it. For Dak, the stakes couldn’t be higher… after all, if the aquarium shuts down, what will happen to the fish?


Missing Jack
by Rebecca Elliott

This delightful book addresses the difficult subject of a child’s first experience of the death of a pet with warmth, sensitivity and well placed humour.
Age: 2+


Image result for When someone dies / Dawn Hewitt ; illustrated by Ximena Jeria.

When someone dies
by Dawn Hewitt

A useful book to use to explain what happens when someone dies and how to deal with grief. It has a suggestions section on ‘Things to do ‘ and ‘Notes for parents and teachers’.
Age 4+


Image result for Remembering Crystal / Sebastian Loth.

Remembering Crystal
by Sebastian Loth

Goose and Tortoise are good friends. When Tortoise dies, Goose finds that remembering happy times helps her cope with her sadness.
Age: 4+


Love from Alfie McPoonst The Best Dog Ever
by Dawn McNiff

When Alfie the dog dies, he sends his owner Izzy letters in the post from his new address: The Nicest Cloud, Dog Heaven, The Sky. He wants her to know that he misses her – so much! – but his new home in heaven is brilliant. There are postmen to chase, angels to tickle his tummy, and he never even has to take a bath! Can his letters comfort Izzy, who is is feeling lost without him? Sensitively balancing humour and raw emotional truth, this is a beautifully observed tale sure to reassure children experiencing loss and grief for the very first time.
Age: 3+


Tibble and Grandpa
by Wendy Meddour

Goose and Tortoise are good friends. When Tortoise dies, Goose finds that remembering happy times helps her cope with her sadness.
Age: 4+


The Scar
by Charlotte Moundlic

This picture book for older readers captures the loneliness of grief through the eyes of a child.
Age: 5+


Pearl
by Sally Murphy

Pearl’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s and eventually dies. Pearl finds a way to cope by writing a poem that she reads out at the funeral.
Age 7+


The Garden of Hope
by Isabel Otter

Mum has died and the little girl and her father try to restore the garden her mother loved. The plants and animals in the garden bring hope for the family as they move on.
Age 4+


Mum’s Jumper written and illustrated
by Jayde Perkin
Age range: 4+

If Mum has gone, how do you carry on? Missing her feels like a dark cloud that follows you around, or like swimming to a shore that never comes any nearer. But memories are like a jumper that you can cuddle and wear. And Mum s jumpermight be a way to keep her close.
A simple, heartfelt and ultimately uplifting book for anyone coping with loss.


Let’s Talk about When Someone Dies
by Molly Potter

A discussion book covering feelings, funerals, why people die and how to remember them. There is a guidance section for Parents and Carers.
Age 6+


Sad Book
by Michael Rosen

Drawing on his own experience of his son’s death, Michael Rosen looks at what makes people feel sad. Beautifully illustrated by Quentin Blake and appropriate for children and adults.
Age: 7+


Badger’s Parting Gifts
by Susan Varley

As badger prepares to die, to go ‘down the long tunnel’, he leaves behind a simple note. His friends grieve, but find comfort in remembering the way each had been helped by badger.
Age: 5+


Image result for Goodbye Grandma / Melanie Walsh.

Goodbye Grandma
by Melanie Walsh

In this reassuring lift-the-flap book a little boy asks his mum some important questions about death and bereavement.
Age: 3+


A Tiger Tale
by Holly Webb

After Granddad dies Kate can’t understand how people can laugh and joke as if nothing has changed.  Comfort comes from an unexpected source.
Age: 7+


Harry & Hopper
by Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood

The illustrations in this book are very atmospheric and use a range of styles. This is a sensitive story about the death of a pet, and looks at how the child deals with letting go.
Age: 3+


The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair
by Lara Williamson

Dad has run away in the middle of the night, taking Becket and his little brother Billy with him.  They have left everything behind, including their almost-mum Pearl.  The central theme of this book is of saying goodbye – the their late mother, to Pearl, to a sister, even to Brian the snail.
Age: 9+


Useful Organisations

Care for the Family:
Support for families and advice on how to support someone going through bereavement.

Child Bereavement UK:
Supporting bereaved children and young people.

CHUMS:
CHUMS has developed a unique service delivery model to ensure that children and young people are able to access a service that supports their individual needs.

CRUSE:
Bereavement Care: helping those who have been affected by a death

Marie Curie:
Information about grief and how it affects children of different ages.

NHS:
Advice for parents, carers and guarantors on how to support a child going though bereavement.

The Other Side of You by Salley Vickers

About the book

There is no cure for being alive.’ Thus speaks Dr David McBride, a psychiatrist for whom death exerts an unusual draw. As a young child he witnessed the death of his six-year-old brother and it is this traumatic event which has shaped his own personality and choice of profession. One day a failed suicide, Elizabeth Cruikshank, is admitted to his hospital. She is unusually reticent and it is not until he recalls a painting by Caravaggio that she finally yields up her story.

We learn of Elizabeth Cruikshank’s dereliction of trust, and the man she has lost, through David’s narration. As her story unfolds, David finds his own life being touched by a sense that the ‘other side’ of his elusive patient has a strange resonance for him, too.

Set partly in Rome, ‘The Other Side of You’ explores the theme of redemption through love and art, which has become a hallmark of Salley Vickers’s acclaimed work, which includes ‘Mr Golightly’s Holiday’ and ‘Miss Garnet’s Angel’.

Reviewed by The Pageturners

“Beautifully written, this novel tells the story of a psychiatrist and a female patient, a failed suicide.The author has worked as a psychoanalyst and uses this story to explore several themes – e.g. life, love and reality so plenty of scope for some philosophical discussions! Paintings bt Caravaggio and the city of Rome are featured and add interest to the narrative. Our group of five were divided in our judgement; it would seem that this book needs careful, thoughtful reading or re-reading to appreciate it fully. The reader who suggested it has read it a few times already!”

star rating ***

 

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

Pure by Andrew Miller

About the book

A year of bones, of grave-dirt, relentless work. Of mummified corpses and chanting priests. A year of rape, suicide, sudden death. Of friendship too. Of desire. Of love… A year unlike any other he has lived. Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, provincial engineer charged by the king with demolishing it.

At first Baratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to his own.

Reviewed by The Olive Tree

“A very good read and liked by all the group. A very well written account of a little known event, intriguing, and an evocative picture of 18th Century characters

star rating ****

 

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor

About the book

On a cold, quiet day between Christmas and the New Year, a man’s body is found in an abandoned apartment. His friends look on, but they’re dead, too. Their bodies found in squats and sheds and alleyways across the city. Victims of a bad batch of heroin, they’re in the shadows, a chorus keeping vigil as the hours pass, paying their own particular homage as their friend’s body is taken away, examined, investigated, and cremated. All of their stories are laid out piece by broken piece through a series of fractured narratives. We meet Robert, the deceased, the only alcoholic in a sprawling group of junkies; Danny, just back from uncomfortable holidays with family, who discovers the body and futilely searches for his other friends to share the news of Robert’s death; Laura, Robert’s daughter, who stumbles into the junkie’s life when she moves in with her father after years apart; Heather, who has her own place for the first time since she was a teenager; Mike, the Falklands War vet; and all the others. Theirs are stories of lives fallen through the cracks, hopes flaring and dying, love overwhelmed by a stronger need, and the havoc wrought by drugs, distress, and the disregard of the wider world. These invisible people live in a parallel reality, out of reach of basic creature comforts, like food and shelter. In their sudden deaths, it becomes clear, they are treated with more respect than they ever were in their short lives.

Reviewed by Waterlooville

“A hard read but very well written and tackling a tough subject”

star rating – none given

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

Requiem for a Wren by Nevil Shute

About the book

Janet Prentice is a former Wren who fell in love during the war. The death of her fiance and her hope clouds her future, even when World War II is over. Tragically, her self-destructive urges take her further towards despair.

Reviewed by Goodworth Clatford

The story pivots around the accidental killing of seven people on a plane and Janet’s atonement. Well constructed and the country descriptions were good.

Star rating ***

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading group set
 
 

Everyman by Philip Roth

About the book

From the author of ‘The Plot Against America’, ‘Everyman‘ is a painful human story of the regret and stoicism of a man who becomes what he does not want to be. The terrain of this savagely sad novel is the human body, and its subject is the common experience that terrifies us all – death.

Reviewed by Ace of Shapes

Enjoyable and well written. Thought it could be a bit depressing for people of a certain age as it is about ageing and death!

Star rating: ***

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading group set
 
 

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

About the book

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers–with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.
The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building’s other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including–perhaps–their aunt, who can’t seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.
Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life–even after death.

Review by North Baddesley WI 2 Reading Group:

All members finished the book, one found it depressing. We thought it well written and interesting to observe life from a ghosts point of view. Thee was a great deal of insight into how one of the characters worked through his bereavement. It gave the group plenty to talk about.

Star rating: ***

Read the book

Request to borrow a reading group set

The book Thief by M Zusak

About the book

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist: books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids – as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Reviewed by Firgrove Ladies Book Group:

The unusual style provoked discussion and differences of opinion.  A profound read which showed the resilience of human beings in extremely difficult situations.  It encouraged healthy discussion.

Star rating: ****

Read the book

Request to borrow a reading group set