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Programs

The Pillar Project

The Kara FundThe mission of The Pillar Project is to promote medical coping and bereavement support by providing individualized books and resources that honor and support patients and their loved ones affected by the child's serious illness or by grief. Through The Pillar Project, we hope to offer helpful information, resources, and opportunities to enhance communication and coping during difficult times.

This program is graciously funded through The Kara Fund and extends to supporting parents/caregivers, siblings of all ages, grandparents, and other close family members and loved ones who may benefit from these resources.

Jill Majeski, PsyD
Founder, The Pillar Project

Reading Resources

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Kids & Teens Medical Coping

TitleAuthorAudienceLink
Cancer Daily LifeCarola Schmidt (Author), Rafael Antonio (Illustrator)AYA; Cancer Daily Life is a bittersweet collection of single and double-frame strips that only readers who are highly involved with the C world could relate to. It’s sometimes cute and sweet, sometimes acid, sometimes trivial, sometimes funny, just like daily life.Link
Living Well With My Serious Illness (Workbook)Marge HeegaardAges 8-12; An art therapy book helping children cope with the early stages of a serious illness.Link
The Chronic Pain and Illness Workbook for Teens: CBT and Mindfulness-Based Practices to Turn the Volume Down on Pain (Workbook)Rachel Zoffness, PhD (Author), Elliot J. Krane MD (Foreword)AYA; With this powerful and easy-to-use workbook, you’ll learn how pain affects both your mind and body, how negative emotions can make pain worse, and strategies to help you turn the volume down on your pain, so you can go back to enjoying activities that you love. You’ll also learn mindfulness and relaxation exercises, including belly breathing and body scan to help manage pain in the moment.Link
Positive Coping With Health Conditions: A Self-Care Workbook (PDF Online)Dan Bilsker, PhD, Rpsych, Joti Samra, PhD Rpsych, Elliot Goldner, MD, FRC (P)AYA; Positive Coping with Health Conditions (PCHC) was developed by scientist-practitioners with the Consortium for Organizational Mental Healthcare. It was developed in consultation with a range of stakeholders concerned with how individuals deal with health conditions, including patients, physicians, psychologists, nurses, rehabilitation professionals and researchers.Link
Beyond the Rainbow (Workbook)Marge HeegaardAges 4-8; An art therapy book which helps children cope with a life-threating illness. Children are encouraged to express in pictures what they are often incapable of expressing in words.Link
You Weren't with MeChandra Ippen (Author), Erich Ippen (Illustrator)Ages 3-11; Little Rabbit and Big Rabbit are together after a difficult separation, but even though they missed each other, Little Rabbit is not ready to cuddle up and receive Big Rabbit’s love. Little Rabbit needs Big Rabbit to understand what it felt like when they were apart.Link

Sibling Medical Coping

TitleAuthorAudienceLink
When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness: Children Can Learn to Cope with Loss and Change (Workbook)Marge HeegaardAges 4-7; An excellent resource for helping children learn the basic concepts of illness and various age-appropriate ways of coping with it.Link
How Do You Care For a Very Sick Bear?Vanessa Bayer and Rosie ButcherAges 3-9; How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear? is a sweet picture book with advice for children―and adults―for dealing with a sick friend.Link
If I could be You for Just One DayKathy CramerAYA; “Just One Day” is a heartwarming story about the desire to give the gift we cannot give -- to take away pain and illness from those we love. This precious story takes you through a journey from rollercoaster rides to walking in the grass barefoot to smelling flowers and playing in the snow. “Just One Day” is a gift book that the recipient will never forget. Full-color, water illustrations used throughout. Hardcover with dust jacket, 36 pages.Link
Hi, My Name is JackChristina Beall-SullivanAges 3-12; This is a children's book specifically for the healthy siblings of chronically ill, disabled or dying children. This book addresses and focuses upon some of the feelings that may be experienced by healthy siblings. This book is unique in that it is not illness specific and does not focus on the illness itself.Link
What About Me? When Brothers and Sisters Get SickDr. Allan Peterkin MD (Author), Francis Middendorf (Illustrator)Ages 4-8; What about me? This question, usually unspoken, lies at the heart of this poignant story, as a young girl attempts to cope with her brother's being ill. Beautifully written and illustrated, this story deals with the many complicated feelings the well child experiences in such a situation: guilt about having somehow caused the illness, fear that the sibling will die, anger over being left out, anxiety about catching the sickness, and longing for life to return to the way it was.Link
You Weren't with MeChandra Ippen (Author), Erich Ippen (Illustrator)Ages 3-11; Little Rabbit and Big Rabbit are together after a difficult separation, but even though they missed each other, Little Rabbit is not ready to cuddle up and receive Big Rabbit’s love. Little Rabbit needs Big Rabbit to understand what it felt like when they were apart.Link

Special Needs Siblings

TitleAuthorAudienceLinkReading Video
SometimesRebecca ElliotAges 3-8; Toby loves his big sister Clemmie. She always looks after him and he looks after her - even when her disability means she has to go to hospital again. But they still find ways to have fun together - and their story will help encourage children facing a similar situation.LinkLink
Just BecauseRebecca ElliotAges 3-8; My big sister Clemmie is my best friend. She can't walk, talk, move around much, cook macaroni, pilot a plane, juggle or do algebra. I don't know why she doesn't do these things. Just because.' This heartwarming picture book about being perfectly loved, no matter what, tells of a brother's love for his sister.LinkLink
Hi, My Name is JackChristina Beall-SullivanAges 3-12; This is a children's book specifically for the healthy siblings of chronically ill, disabled or dying children. This book addresses and focuses upon some of the feelings that may be experienced by healthy siblings. This book is unique in that it is not illness specific and does not focus on the illness itself.Link

Kids' Anticipatory Grief

TitleAuthorAudienceLink
Beyond the Rainbow (Workbook)Marge HeegaardAges 4-8; An art therapy book which helps children cope with a life-threating illness. Children are encouraged to express in pictures what they are often incapable of expressing in words.Link
The Next PlaceWarren HansonAges 5-9; A classic, "The Next Place" brings gentle verse revealing a safe and welcome destination free from earthly hurts and filled with wonder and peace. A comforting message of hope and a gift of compassion for the bereaved.Link
When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness: Children Can Learn to Cope with Loss and Change (Workbook)Marge HeegaardAges 4-7; An excellent resource for helping children learn the basic concepts of illness and various age-appropriate ways of coping with it.Link
The Gift of Gerbert's FeathersMeaghann Weaver MD MPH (Author), Lori Wiener PhD DCSW (Author), Mikki Butterley (Illustrator)Ages 4-8; Gerbert the gosling is strong and brave and has fun times with his family and friends but knows that, one day soon, he won’t be able to keep up with them anymore. As Gerbert prepares for his final migration, he finds a way to show his flock that he will always be with them. Includes a one-page Note to Readers and an online Note with additional information useful for parents, caregivers, grandparents, siblings, and teachers.Link
Ben's Flying FlowersDr. Inger Maier PhD (Author), Maria Bogade (Illustrator)Ages 4-8; When Emily loses her brother after a long illness, she feels alone, angry, and very, very sad. With the understanding and support of her parents, Emily learns that it helps when she snuggles with her parents. It helps when she talks about her feelings and asks questions about Ben. And it helps when she does regular kid stuff, too.Link
The Invisible StringPatrice Karst, Joanne Lew-VriethoffAges 4-8; about the unbreakable connections between loved ones has healed a generation of readers--children and adults alike--and has been updated with new illustrations and an afterword from the author.Link

Adolescent & Young Adult Grief

TitleAuthorAudienceLink
Fire In My Heart Ice In My Veins: A journal for young adults and teenagers (Journal)Enid Samuel-TraismanAges 13+; A safe place for young adults and teens to write down letters, meaningful lyrics, songs, poems, things that they want the person who passed away to know.Link
Healing Adult Sibling's Grieving HeartAlan WolfeltAdult Siblings; Compassionate and heartfelt, this collection offers 100 practical ideas to help understand and accept the passing of a sibling in order to practice self-healing. The principles of grief and mourning are clearly defined, accompanied by action-oriented tips for embracing bereavement. Whether a sibling has died as a young or older adult or the death was sudden or anticipated, this resource provides a healthy approach to dealing with the aftermath.Link
Healing Grieving Heart for Teens: 100 Practical IdeasAlan WolfeltAges 12-18; Acknowledging that death is a painful, ongoing part of life, they explain how people need to slow down, turn inward, embrace their feelings of loss, and seek and accept support when a loved one dies.Link
Stuff That Sucks (Journal)Ben SedleyAges 12+; A teen’s guide to accepting what you can’t change and committing to what you can. A compassionate and validating guide committed to helping teens prioritizing their thoughts and emotions. Based on the acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Not isolated to grief over loss.Link
Grieving the Sibling You Lost: A Teen's Guide to Coping with Grief and Finding Meaning After Loss (Workbook)Goldblatt Hyatt DSWAgs 12+; For the first time, a psychotherapist specializing in teen and adolescent bereavement offers a compassionate guide to help you discover your unique coping style, deal with overwhelming emotions, and find constructive ways to manage this profound loss so you can move forward in a meaningful and healthy way.Link
Why Did You Die? (Workbook)Erika LeeuwenburghAges 6-12; When a loved one dies, children are faced with a kaleidoscope of feelings, thoughts, myths, and questions. This workbook offers tools that you can use to help a grieving child in your life deal with these feelings.Link

Kids' Grief

TitleAuthorAudienceLinkReading Video
We Were Gonna Have a Baby But Had an Angel InsteadPat Schwiebert and Taylor BillsAges 2-5; Created especially for children who are suffering the loss of their families pregnancy.LinkLink
No New BabyMarilyn GryteAges 4-8; For siblings who have a brother or sister die before birth. This storybook talks about the different feelings children have and answers some of the most asked questions. Recently revised, includes a section for parents and grandparents. Illustrations are done by Kristi McClendon.Link
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to ChildrenB. Mellonie & R.R. IngpenAges 3-7; Gentle explanations of the life cycle.LinkLink
Death is StupidAnastasia HigginbothamAges 4-8; This forthright exploration of grief and mourning recognizes the anger, confusion, and fear that we feel about death. Necessary, beautiful, and ultimately reassuring, Death Is Stupid is an invaluable tool for discussing death, but also the possibilities for celebrating life and love.LinkLink
When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief (Workbook)Marge HeegaardAges 5-10; Workbook format dealing with lifecycle, grief reactions, memories and coping strategies. Children, with the supervision of an adult, are invited to illustrate and personalize their loss through art. When Someone Very Special Dies encourages the child to identify support systems and personal strengths.Link
Something Happened: : A Book for Children and Parents Who Have Experienced Pregnancy LossCathy BlanfordAges 4-8; The book addresses the sadness that a child experiences when the anticipated baby has died. The child's fears and feelings of guilt are addressed as well as other confusing feelings. Perhaps most important, the book includes the family's experience of going on with life while always remembering their baby.Link
I Miss You: A First Look at DeathPat ThomasAges 4-8; This book helps boys and girls understand that death is a natural complement to life, and that grief and a sense of loss are normal feelings for them to have following a loved one's death.LinkLink
The Memory BoxJoanna Rowland (Author), Thea Baker (Illustrator)Ages 4-8; From the perspective of a young child, Joanna Rowland artfully describes what it is like to remember and grieve a loved one who has died. The child in the story creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one, to help in the grieving process. Heartfelt and comforting, The Memory Box will help children and adults talk about this very difficult topic together.LinkLink
Ida AlwaysCaron LevisAges 4-8; This book helps boys and girls understand that death is a natural complement to life, and that grief and a sense of loss are normal feelings for them to have following a loved one's death.LinkLink
The Invisible StringPatrice Karst, Joanne Lew-VriethoffAges 4-8; about the unbreakable connections between loved ones has healed a generation of readers--children and adults alike--and has been updated with new illustrations and an afterword from the author.LinkLink
Guiding Your Child Through GriefM.A. & J.P. EmswillerParents/Caregivers; For parents/caregivers supporting a child after the death of another parent or sibling Written by a husband and wife team, Guiding your child through grief offers expert advice on helping children cope with the death of a parent or sibling.Link
Healing Your Grieving Heart for Kids: 100 Practical IdeasAlan WolfeltAges 3-11; With sensitivity and insight, this series offers suggestions for healing activities that can help survivors learn to express their grief and mourn naturallyLink
What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?Trevor Romain BookAges 5-10; Simple, insightful, and straight from the heart—is for any child who has lost a loved one or other special person. Trevor talks directly to kids about what death means and how to cope. He asks the kinds of questions kids have about death—Why? How? What next? Is it my fault? What’s a funeral?—in basic, straightforward terms. He describes and discusses the overwhelming emotions involved in grieving—sadness, fear, anger, guilt—and offers practical strategies for dealing with them.Link
When Something Terrible Happens: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief (Workbook)Marge HeegaardAges 4-8; Creates ways for children to explore the fright, confusion, and insecurity caused by traumatic events in their lives.Link
Where Are You? A Child's Book About LossLaura OlivieriAges 4-8; Where Are You: A Child's Book About Loss is a kind and supportive text with beautiful illustrations designed to help children of all ages cope with the loss of a loved one. It is created with love and care so that even the youngest readers will find comfort during this stressful and difficult time.Link
Tear SoupPat Schweibert, Chuck DeKlyen, Talyor Bills, Mary McDonald-LewisAges 8-12; If you are going to buy only one book on grief, this is the one to get! It will validate your grief experience, and you can share it with your children. You can leave it on the coffee table so others will pick it up, read it, and then better appreciate your grieving time. Grand's Cooking Tips section at the back of the book is rich with wisdom and concrete recommendations. Better than a casserole!LinkLink
Something Very Sad HappenedBonnie ZuckerAges 2-3; Something Very Sad Happened is intended to be read to two- and three-year-old children to help them understand death and process the loss of a loved one. Written at a developmental level that is appropriate for two- and three-year-olds, the story explains death; lets children know that it is okay to feel sad; and reassures children that they can still love the person who died, and the person who died will always love them.LinkLink
Why Did You Die? (Workbook)Erika LeeuwenburghAges 6-12; When a loved one dies, children are faced with a kaleidoscope of feelings, thoughts, myths, and questions. This workbook offers tools that you can use to help a grieving child in your life deal with these feelings.Link

Pregnancy & Infant Illness

TitleAuthorAudienceLinkReading Video
Empty Cradle Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your BabyDeborah DavisParents coping with miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death. The heartache of miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death affects thousands of U.S. families every year. Empty Cradle, Broken Heart, Third Edition offers reassurance to parents who struggle with anger, guilt, and despair during and after such a tragedy.Link
Greiving the Child I Never KnewKathe WunnenbergParents; Grieving the Child I Never Knew is a warm, encouraging, and truly helpful devotional for anyone experiencing the terrible loss of a baby.Link
Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child after Pregnancy Loss – A Devotional Book on How to Cope, Mourn and Heal after Losing a BabySarah PhilpottMothers; Loved Baby offers much-needed support to women in the middle of psychological and physiological grief as a result of losing an unborn child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or ectopic pregnancy loss.Link
Gift of Time: Continuing Your Pregnancy When Your Baby's Life Is Expected to Be BriefAmy Kuebelbeck, Deborah L. DavisParents; A Gift of Time is a gentle and practical guide for parents who decide to continue their pregnancy knowing that their baby's life will be brief.Link
I Love You Still: A Memorial Baby Book (Baby Book)Margaret ScofieldParents; I Love You Still: A Memorial Baby Book was carefully created to hold memories and love for babies taken too soon due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or in their first days of life.Link
Walking with You for GrandparentsKelly GerkenGrandparents were planning, waiting, and dreaming for this precious baby right along with the child’s parents. They are not only part of the story, but they have their own stories to tell. Stories of much wanted and longed for babies. Stories filled with plans and dreams that were changedforever with the words, “I’m so sorry...there is no heartbeat.” Their stories are worth telling. Because our babies lived. Our babies matter.Link
We Were Gonna Have a Baby But Had an Angel InsteadPat Schwiebert and Taylor BillsAges 2-5; Created especially for children who are suffering the loss of their families pregnancy.LinkLink
No New BabyMarilyn GryteAges 2-5; For siblings who have a brother or sister die before birth. This storybook talks about the different feelings children have and answers some of the most asked questions. Recently revised, includes a section for parents and grandparents. Illustrations are done by Kristi McClendon.Link
Healing Your Greiving Heart after Miscarriage  Alan Wolfelt, PhDParents; This compassionate guide contains 100 practical ideas to help those affected by the tragedy of miscarriage, from teaching the principles of grief and mourning to practical, action-oriented tips for coping with the natural difficulties of a loss. Fostering communication between partners, explaining the loss to others, and reconciling anger and guilt are some of the additional topics covered in this compassionate book for those grieving in the aftermath of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.Link
Healing Your Grieving Heart After Stillbirth: 100 Practical Ideas for Parents and FamiliesAlan Wolfelt, PhDParents; Beloved grief educator Dr. Alan Wolfelt compassionately explores the common feelings of shock, anger, guilt, and sadness that accompany a stillborn child, offering suggestions for expressing feelings, remembering the child, and healing as a family. Ideas to help each unique person—mother, father, grandparent, sibling, friend—are included, as are thoughts from families who experienced a stillbirth. Link

Parent & Caregiver Grief

TitleAuthorAudienceLink
Journey Through Grief and loss: Helping Yourself and Your Child When Grief Is SharedRobert ZuckerParents/Caregivers; Understanding grief for adults and children. How to communicate with children about death. Understanding how adults and children grieve differently • Learning how to explain the meaning of death to children • Knowing what to do when grief gets complicated • Deciding when they and/or their child need counseling • Helping their family members stay connected with loved ones even after deathLink
Healing a Parent's Grieving Heart; : 100 Practical Ideas After Your Child DiesAlan D. Wolfelt, PhDBereaved Parents; Tips for coping and healing with loss of a child. Presenting simple yet highly effective methods for coping and healing, this book provides answers and relief to parents trying to deal with the loss of a child. It offers 100 practical, action-oriented tips for embracing griefLink
Grief Day by Day: Simple Practices and Daily Guidance for Living with LossJan WarnerGeneral Grief; Adults; 365 Daily Reflections that include quotes, meditations, and other musings on grief. Weekly Themes that capture common feelings and experiences such as: Loneliness, Things Left Unsaid, Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms, Guilt, and Intimacy. 52 Healing Exercises that help you process your feelings at the end of each week and develop skills for coping with grief as it arisesLink
Healing a Grandparent's Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Grandchild DiesAlan D. Wolfelt, PhDBereaved Grandparents; practical coping ideas. This heartfelt manual is an indispensable and easily referenced resource for grieving grandparents, offering them a way forward after the death of a grandchild. Whether they were close to their grandchild and keenly feeling his or her absence, or even if they were not close to the child and are mourning the loss of a relationship they’ll never haveLink
Walking with You for GrandparentsKelly GerkenGrandparents were planning, waiting, and dreaming for this precious baby right along with the child’s parents. They are not only part of the story, but they have their own stories to tell. Stories of much wanted and longed for babies. Stories filled with plans and dreams that were changedforever with the words, “I’m so sorry...there is no heartbeat.” Their stories are worth telling. Because our babies lived. Our babies matter.Link
Beyond Tears: Living After Losing a Child, Revised EditionEllen Mitchell and Rita VolpeParents; Book For parents who have lost a child. A cathartic book that provides comfort and direction to parents who have lost a child. Follows 9 mothers and how they coped with their loss. Includes the perspective of surviving siblings.Link
From Despair to Hope: Survival Guide for Bereaved ParentsLinda ZelickParents; This is a must have book for every newly bereaved parent. Written by a mother who lost a son, the book offers help, hope and guidance to those facing the crippling emotions that come with the loss of a child of any age. The author combines suggestions gained from personal experience as well as advice from other parents and experts in their fields.Link
The Grieving Child: A Parent's GuideHelen FitzgeraldParents & Caregivers; Explaining death to a child is one of the most difficult tasks a parent or other relative can face. The Grieving Child offers practical, compassionate advice for helping a child cope with the death of a parent or other loved one. Parents of children from preschool age to the teen years will find much-needed guidanceLink
Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a ChildGary RoeParents; In Shattered, Roe walks the reader through the powerful impact a child’s death can have - emotionally, mentally, physically, relationally, and spiritually.Link

Advanced Directives

TitleAuthorAudienceLink
Hard Choices for Loving People: CPR, Feeding Tubes, Palliative Care, Comfort Measures, and the Patient with a Serious Illness, 6th Ed.Hank DunnCaregivers; Hank Dunn draws on his extensive experience as a chaplain in a nursing home, hospice program and hospital.Link
My WishesFive WishesChildren; My Wishes is a booklet written in everyday language that helps children express how they want to be cared for in case they become seriously ill. My Wishes also helps begin conversations among children, parents and caregivers, just like Five Wishes. My Wishes is not a legal document.Link
Voicing My ChoicesFive WishesAYA; Voicing My Choices empowers young people living with a serious illness to communicate to family, friends and caregivers how you want to be comforted, supported, treated and remembered.Link

Journals

TitleLink
Be Still & Know That I am God/religious JournalLink
Start Where You Are JournalLink
Individual Journals
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