For children, it's especially difficult. It's often their first experience of grief and loss, and depending on their age, they might find it hard to understand that their beloved pet is never coming back. At times like these, a book such as Goodbye, Brecken can be invaluable.
Simply written, it tells the story of Isabelle and her dog Brecken. Born on the same day, they grew up together, snuggled together and played together. But dog years are not the same as human years and eventually Brecken grows old and dies. Isabelle is sad, angry … and lonely.
One night she has a dream in which she sets off on a long journey to find Brecken. First she finds a deer. He hasn't seen Brecken but his warm wet nose feels just like that of her much loved dog. Then she finds a fox, with soft fur, just like his. And then some rabbits come up to her, and their playful hopping reminds her of all the happy times she shared with Brecken. A big black crow flies towards her, cawing loudly — everything disappears and Isabelle is alone and afraid in her dream world. But then Brecken comes to her, licks her face and takes her on his back for a ride. And Isabelle is no longer scared and no longer lonely.
When she awakes from her dream, Isabelle is able to accept Brecken's death and say goodbye. But she also realises that she will always have her memories of him and be able to keep him close in her heart.
Children are invited to engage with the story by completing two pages of activities that are included in the book. In addition, a 'Note to Parents' provides excellent advice on how to talk to your child about the death of their pet in an age-appropriate manner and also lists several coping strategies that can be used to help children through the grieving process.
Title: Goodbye, Brecken: A Story About the Death of a Pet
Author/Illustrator: David Lupton
Publisher: Magination Press, $21.95 RRP
Publication Date: March 2013
For ages: 4–9
Type: Picture Book