Always and Forever
This is a very personal post but for me, but I want to talk about the book ‘Always and Forever’ by Alan Durant. I wish I had known about this book one year ago, when I was looking for suitable reading material on loss and bereavement for my children. This blog is very new but there are many people following our journey already and understand we, as a family have experienced loss and grief. However, I won’t go into too much detail right now but wanted to share a book that is truly remarkable. It has helped our children so much in their understanding of death and the grieving process. Our son was struggling and this is by far the best picture book we have read on the subject matter.
‘Always and Forever’ centres around friends Otter, Mole, Hare and Fox who live together in the woods. They all have different strengths that help their household run smoothly. When fox dies they are devastated and struggle to cope with life without him. Their sadness is very prominent to the reader. In the Spring time, Squirrel comes to visit and begins to help them through their grief by telling funny stories about Fox’s shortcomings. They begin to share their memories and stories about Fox and they realise he will always be with them in their hearts and minds. Furthermore, the friends begin to make a special garden so they always have a special place to go to remember him.
There is such tenderness and honesty in the way ‘Always and Forever’ is written. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that when the friends shut out the world in their grief, they struggle to laugh and have fun. Squirrel is a wonderful friend by explaining Fox wouldn’t want them to be sad all the time. The illustrations by Debi Gliori are so beautiful and emotive, especially the last image of the friends sitting together looking up at Fox’s star in the sky. I read the book to Nico first and we both had to wipe our eyes at the end. As a family we enjoy reading this book, and the children know they can ask me any questions afterwards. Recommended for all children experiencing grief, or anyone wishing to introduce the concept of death in a sensitive and heart warming way.