Funeral and mourning customs from many cultures and religious traditions, scientific explanations of death, and ways to think about personal grief.
Incorporating color photos, watercolor illustrations and spot art, sidebars, and legends in a layout that is sometimes too busy, this book reaches far into the past with information about burial rites in Egypt and Greece and then comes right up to the present with material about green burials and physician-assisted death. The chapter on grief posits that imagining emotions moving around a figure 8, on which “the more positive feelings are on the top part and the darker feelings are on the bottom part,” may be a more useful way for young people to grieve than the often cited Kübler-Ross model, which is linear in scope. There is advice about seeking out help from “a parent, a teacher, a counselor, or another caring adult” if young people find themselves “stuck in the bottom of the 8.” Occasionally, the book errs a bit. A double-page feature on limbo discusses ghosts, zombies, and other “undead beings” and is silent on the only recently discarded Catholic concept, for instance, and a discussion of funeral colors is accompanied by striking arrays of multicolored Mexican skulls, unmentioned there or even in the short caption for a photo of Day of the Dead customs two pages later.
Quibbles aside, a sensitive approach to a difficult subject. (resources, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)