It will soon be time for children, young and old, in numerous countries across the world to celebrate Father’s Day, traditionally earmarked for the third Sunday in June. The event, whose history can be traced back to Catholic Europe in the early 1500s, is by no means a UK-only festivity.

As well as the US and Canada, Father’s Day is also observed in countries including France, Argentina, Greece, India, Ireland and Mexico.

And, certainly in the UK, the importance of the event – and the buying of cards and presents around it – has grown significantly in recent years.

In 2021, for example, retail spending on Father’s Day was estimated to have reached £951 million, compared with £743 million in 2017 (D. Tighe, https://statista.com). That’s a lot of happily loved ‘Dads’ across the nation being told how special they are on a day that is just for them.

But Father’s Day, particularly because it is so widely enjoyed, can also be a time of sadness, specifically for those for whom it is a painful reminder that their beloved father/father figure is no longer around. This can be particularly acute for young children who, as well as contending with grief, also find themselves feeling a sense of ‘otherness’ or of being somehow different.

Fortunately, schools are becoming much more sensitive in this area, often making special efforts to provide support for vulnerable children during these difficult times.

At Rainbows Bereavement Support GB, we also aim to provide support, which can come in many forms, including celebrations, rituals, games and also reading. It is why we are happy to recommend sensitive, thoughtful – and useful – books when we find them. 

One such children’s book is The Grief Jar by Lynsey Shaw – a touching tale of how a little bear’s thoughtful friends make his sorrow light enough for him to be able to play. By saying kind things about the daddy that bear had lost, they shared the pain that he had stored in his jar and by doing so made it more manageable.

Lynsey Shaw is a children’s illustrator, and she wrote this book in memory of her father. She has recently launched a crowdfunding site to get the book printed. Her story is below.

Lynsey Shaw’s journey in her own words

The Grief Jar was a book I felt compelled to write and illustrate after I lost my Dad in June 2020.  The circumstances surrounding his passing were such that my family were unable to grieve in the standard way because of the pandemic and limitations on funerals and gatherings.  This compounded an already quite isolating period where I was desperately seeking opportunities to talk about him, and discovering that when I found someone to listen, my grief felt that bit lighter and easier to manage.

The story begins with Bear sitting in a room alone with a big heavy jar filled with feelings that he can’t move by himself. His friends want him to come out and play but they can see that he’s sad and don’t know what to do.  Each animal friend comes in to see if they can help, and one by one ask him about his Daddy.  As Bear shares stories about his Daddy, he begins to feel he may be able to lift the jar if he can get a little help from his friends.  They begin to assist him in carrying his jar, coming up with practical ways to make it easier to carry whilst sharing memories of him.  

Having lost my Dad in June, Father’s Day has been a painful experience each year since then with the adverts a constant reminder of something I no longer have.  Launching the crowdfunder for The Grief Jar” in time for Father’s Day, will hopefully allow for those looking to do something positive in memory of their own loved ones a much needed outlet.

The crowdfunder launched on 16th June at 12pm. It provides a number of reward tiers for those who would like to support this book going to print, including: A copy of the book, having your name printed inside the cover, artwork prints, bookmarks and the donation of books to Rainbows.

Click here to check out the crowdfunder: https://crowdfunder.co.uk/p/the-grief-jar

To find out more about Lynsey and her illustrations go to: https://www.instagram.com/bearandgoosedesigns/

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