Using Story to Teach Children about Loss, Grief and Bereavement
Guvna B and wife Emma Borquaye with their book, Where Grandad Lives.

Where Grandad Lives is a heart-warming children’s story centred around bereavement. Penned by rapper Guvna B – real name Isaac Borquaye – and his wife, Emma Borquaye, the book follows young Ezra who shares with his inquisitive friend Zadie that his grandad lives somewhere special.

It is inspired by the loss of Guvna B’s own father to cancer in 2017 and their desire for their son, also called Ezra, to know him.

Christian Today spoke with Emma to hear about how the story came to fruition and her advice for parents when it comes to speaking to children about losing loved ones.

You both initially wrote the book for your son Ezra to get to know his grandad. Tell us more about that.

When I was pregnant with Ezra, I had the idea to write the book and it was going to be a surprise for Isaac when Ezra was born. I was aware that it would be difficult for Isaac – the realisation that his dad was not going to be here to meet his first child and would not get to be that grandad figure to him. I thought it would be a nice way to keep him as a part of the journey with us. I told Isaac about the idea and he said that it was such a good idea that we should do it, but do it for everyone.

What led you both to write a story on the subject of bereavement?

It is a journey that we have walked together. Isaac lost his dad about two years after we got married. Becoming parents for the first time meant that we would be stepping into a new phase of our lives and although we had gone through a grieving process, grieving never ends, it’s with you for life. It can pop up in so many ways, especially when there is a big life change or when exciting things are happening, such as having a baby or getting married.

We felt that there was not much material out there that we could connect with on the subject of how people can live on within us, but also with the idea of heaven as well. In the book, we go between the two, the theme of legacy and also the idea of heaven.

How did you go about creating the story?

It came out of nowhere to be honest. I’m quite imaginative and I like the idea of adventure. I always wanted it to be a peer to peer type story, two children talking to one another rather than it being an adult talking to a child or a child to an adult. I think there is something so special and adventurous when children speak to each other. The different places they visit were meant to be reflective of the places children can find joy and excitement.

Also, the special people that we have lost do not just come to mind when we go to a cemetery or when we are somewhere relevant to their life. They can be a part of our every day and in the book Ezra explains how sometimes he thinks about his grandad and it makes him sad, sometimes he thinks about him and it makes him happy, other times he doesn’t think about him at all and that’s OK.

We wanted to have that message in the story, especially when grief is raw. If somebody has just lost a grandparent or someone in their family is experiencing a lot of heavy emotion, a child isn’t always going to feel it in the same way an adult does at every moment; a child can go in and out of grief almost.

What advice would you give to parents who are struggling to speak with their children about bereavement?

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(c) The Christian Today, used with permission.

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