Grieving After a Tsunami

The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan have left all of us deeply shaken. As we struggle to find ways to help, we realize just how fragile life is and how quickly all that we have built can be destroyed. Whole villages have disappeared along with thousands of lives. The grief of this tragedy has quickly spread across the world.

How can we help our children process the feelings and effects of a major disaster like this? One excellent resource is The Big Wave by Pearl S Buck. This award winning children’s story is described on “Kino lives on a farm on the side of a mountain in Japan. His friend, Jiya, lives in a fishing village below. Everyone, including Kino and Jiya, has heard of the big wave. No one suspects it will wipe out the whole village and Jiya's family, too. As Jiya struggles to overcome his sorrow, he understands it is in the presence of danger that one learns to be brave, and to appreciate how wonderful life can be.”

This was one of the books I read as a child that deeply touched me and that I’ve read to my own children. Sally Mandy commented that this story became her 6-year-old daughter’s favorite bedtime book adding “Pearl Buck presents a deep reverence for life, death, and living with danger and uncertainty that permeate the story in an accessible and real way. The end message is hopeful and joyous.

Although The Big Wave was published in 1947, it is a real gift to us today.

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