Local writer pens workbook to help children deal with loss
Martha Faircloth Bush had not planned to write a book. It just evolved over a decade. During years of teaching a grief counseling course at Community Church she realized that many of the emotional responses and hurt were from events during childhood that had not been properly dealt with. It occurred to her if issues were dealt with as children, it would result in healthier adults.
Over time she developed and recently published “Helping Hurting Children: A Journey of Healing,” a workbook and adult reference guide geared to children ages 7 to 12 years.
“This book is a life-saver for parents, grandparents, children’s pastors, and teachers to have some understanding of how to help a child who has experienced loss,” said the Rev. Dan Brack. “I believe this will be a valuable tool that will aid in the healing of many children who wake up one day and find their lives turned upside down by the loss of a loved one.”
A local educator told Bush she recently had a student that needed help and there were no books. The only thing she could find to help were a few things on the internet. There is a need for this type of material and Martha Bush has done her part to fill the gap. Now she is busy trying to get the word out.
Bush defines a loss as a separation from someone or something of value to us. Children today are faced with many issues resulting in losses such as: death, divorce, abuse, multiple moves, family addictions, parental imprisonment, terrorism, school violence and natural disasters. “Helping Hurting Children: A Journey of Healing” helps youngster learn how to deal with those losses using scripture as a basis for those lessons.
It also includes activities in building self-esteem.
Exercises teaching children how to cope include coloring, drawing, writing, puppet shows and even tears.
Children take a journey with a cast of characters including Bubby the Rabbit, Hadley, Crystal, Heather, Hannah and Zach.
Bush got involved with adult grief counseling around 1995 when the late Melba Berkheimer asked her to teach a class.
“Where’s the book?” Bush asked Berkheimer. Bush had been a teacher and was used to have a teaching guide.
“There isn’t one,” replied Berkheimer.
She gave Bush a tape of a 45 minute talk Berkheimer had given on grief and dealing with emotions. Utilizing the tape, Bush built a curriculum over time. When she realized many people’s problems resulted from childhood hurts, she started doing research and realized there were no materials aimed at children, teaching them how to deal with emotions.
The children’s church pastor, the Rev. Brack asked her to develop a small study course for youngsters. She used clip art illustrations and developed the course using Bible principals.
Bush’s daughter, Heather told her she should publish the guide and said she had a friend in the publishing industry.
“It took six years to get through it,” said Bush.
The clip art had to be removed for publication due to copyright restrictions. She didn’t have money for an illustrator.
During the course of her journey, Bush reconnected with a former student, Mel LeCompte Jr. that lived in New Orleans and illustrated books for a living. Over time he asked her if she had an illustrator and offered to do it.
“I thought you would never ask,” she replied.
Bush said she could not have undertaken this project if her husband Glen hadn’t been such a help. He took care of the technical stuff, creating a Web site and doing the layout for the book.
In developing the workbook for children, Bush says she left out a lot of what was being taught in the adult classes, making it simpler. She also added fun activities that would help children express their feelings.
Through her research she has learned when children act out, most of the time it is because they are hurting and they don’t know how to express those feelings in an acceptable manner.
“Don’t wait till a tragedy happens,” said Bush. She feels teaching children how to properly express their feelings ahead of time will make things easier for them when tragedy does strike.
She would love to see administrators of private and Christian schools adopt the program as part of their curriculum.
“Our children deserve to grow up without excess baggage from their childhood,” states the epilogue in the adult reference guide.
Bush said the workbook can be used one on one with an adult mentor and child or used in a classroom setting. She said it is simple enough to be used by parents and grandparents. The Adults Reference Guide is a handy complementary tool, but Bush said it is not required to make use of the children’s workbook.
The workbook is $15 and the adult reference guide is $10. Books can be purchased from Amazon, Barns and Nobles, Books a Million or through Bush herself.
She would love to speak to organizations about her work and is seeking donors to sponsor workbooks for places like women’s shelters where there might be a need, but not the money. Bush said she would donate them herself if she had the money.
In the future she hopes to publish the adult workbook. “It’s already written,” she said.
Bush will begin blogging on her Website: www.marthafbush.com once a week on Aug. 20. She currently blogs on two other Websites and is a member of the Orange Christian Writers Guild.
For more information contact Bush by e-mail: Martha@marthafbush.com or phone409-883-8856; or 409-313-0698.
The next meeting of the Orange Christian Writers Guild is 6-7 p.m., Sept. 3, at Brown Hearing Aid in Orange.
Martha Faircloth Bush has developed a workbook for children to help them deal with loss and grief. “Helping Hurting Children, A Journey of Healing” is aimed at children ages 7-12 and can be ordered where most books are sold. RECORD PHOTO: Penny LeLeux