The power of healing affirmations following grief and loss

Helping our children thrive through tough times can be tricky. Authors Benny and Amber tell Natalie Moutafis they hope children realise they aren't alone when it comes to navigating their emotions.

Safe, Happy and Healthy is the first picture book from authors Benjamin (Benny) Gregory and Amber Sindoni, and is illustrated by Cassie Fleming.

In this Q&A with The Parents Website, Benny and Amber discuss the inspiration behind the book, which explores the challenges of grief and loss throughout childhood, and ways to identify and manage emotions.

Congratulations on the book, Benny and Amber. We are seeing more and more books for children that help them identify emotions and help empower them. What was the inspiration behind Safe, Happy and Healthy?

Thank you so much! Safe, Happy and Healthy was created in honour of Tina (Benny’s mum), who passed away in June of 2020 from cancer. She was a wellness coach who often went by the mantra, Safe, Happy and Healthy. At the time, she continued to find the time to mentor others in their ability to heal and confront feelings of loss, grief and anxiety. Whilst we originally began writing the book as a gift for her, we decided to repurpose it as a gift for the world. Close to our hearts, we also wanted the book to be a reflection on the friendship we share and the purpose we serve in each other’s lives.

It’s not often we see a trauma experience like the death of a parent depicted in a children’s picture book. How do you hope such a sensitive topic will be received? 

Grief and death are a part of the human experience, and although sometimes hard to comprehend, we hope this book helps others in their grief journey. Whilst this book is designed to be digested by children, we know this conversation can be a difficult one to have. So, in turn, we hope parents and caregivers can use this book as a way to ease into this conversation. In our lives, we both know that the butterfly symbolises new beginnings, and each time we encounter something challenging, those ‘butterflies’ in our life will always return, no matter where they might be.

Throughout the book, Billy repeats an affirmation to remind himself that he is safe, happy and healthy. This affirmation, along with the description of how different feelings can show up, is a beautiful way to teach all children (and their grown-ups) how to acknowledge and accept these emotions. What do you hope children will take away from the story? 

For us, we hope children will walk away feeling validated in their feelings. Anxiety is a difficult emotion to tackle for young minds, so we hope they will feel more confident in expressing their feelings and sharing their own stories with others. We hope they will walk away knowing they are brave. As mentioned towards the end of the book, ‘Grown-ups and children, teachers, friends too.’ Ultimately highlighting that we all have a creature ‘that’s far but still near’. We also invite our older readers to adopt this affirmation in their own lives.

If you had one hope for this book, what would it be?

We aim to ensure this book reaches the right people at the right time, resonating with its love and energy. Its impact has been profound, aiding many already, and we’re eager for it to touch countless more lives. Life presents challenges, and we all rely on reminders and tools to navigate them. We aspire for this book to be a guiding light for both children and adults, empowering them to manage emotions and find solace in knowing they’re not alone.

About the book

Safe, Happy and Healthy is available to order online, RRP $36.95.

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