‘Talk to Me Grandpa’ – A Child’s Perspective on Death

Post a Comment » Written on October 22nd, 2008     
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FAIRMONT, MN (October 22, 2008) – When Dawn Bernstrom Fullerton’s father died in 1990, her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Bethany did not understand. What followed over the next year were conversations by mother and daughter that offered no easy answers.

Those conversations have led Fullerton to write Talk to Me, Grandpa! Talk to Me! The book is written from Bethany’s young point of view. To accompany the text, the book is filled with family photos taken prior to and following Waldo Bernstrom’s death.

Book coverFullerton, a member of Fairmont Covenant Church, where her husband Dan, is pastor, hopes that the book will lead to discussions between other parents and their children.

Like any child, Bethany was unable to comprehend what it meant for her grandfather to die and what people meant when they said he is in heaven. When she goes to the funeral home, for example, and sees her grandfather lying in the casket, she demands to know where Jesus is. Later, she thinks, “Then again, if Jesus isn’t here, maybe this isn’t heaven after all.”

The title comes from a moment when months after Bethany’s grandfather died, her other grandfather called the house. Dan answered the phone and asked his daughter if she wanted to say hi. Thinking it was her deceased grandfather calling from heaven, Bethany shouted into the phone, “Talk to me Grandpa! Talk to me!”

Fullerton says the book doesn’t include answers to give children. She didn’t offer answers to her daughter.

“I just let her say what she was thinking about,” says Fullerton, who also is a former director of Christian education for the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada and a former instructor at Covenant Bible College. “I didn’t make any judgments. I didn’t even try to correct her. Kids will eventually come about.”

Dawn says one woman has purchased several copies of the book to include with a package of other items that will be given to each of her grandchildren when she dies.

J. Keith Miller, author of The Taste of New Wine, writes on the back cover, “Both my grandfathers died before I was four, and often I had some of the same wonderings as the narrator of this book. Talk to Me, Grandpa! Talk to Me! is a poignant read.”

The book may be purchased through the online Covenant Bookstore.

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