Writing to Heal: Nina Daoutakis

By Nina Daoutakis

My journey with grief started in January 2021, one month before my daughter was born. This month was meant to be a time to prepare for her birth and to have a little break for myself before the baby came. Instead, I found myself battling with the loss of a loved one that was so profoundly deep, that I still struggle to talk about it today. Some of us take longer to open up about our traumatic experiences with grief and that’s okay. Every individual grief journey is different and unique. I found it very challenging to experience both grief and joy at the same time — the joy of having a baby while grieving the loss of a loved one.

This experience led me to write a children’s book about grief. As a mother and a teacher, I’m surrounded by books and I spend so much of my time reading. I searched for a book about grief and loss. A book that I could read to my daughter when the time was right. A book that addressed all of the intense feelings associated with grief. Although there are some fantastic books for grieving children out there, the literature in this field remains quite limited, and I couldn’t really find what I was looking for.

I kept thinking about this gap in the literature and how I wanted to create something to support grieving children. I am passionate about empowering children in all aspects of life, especially through difficult situations, so I decided to create my book as a supportive resource for children and their families. At the same time, I began my own healing journey by creating my book. Before working on my book, I was just riding the grief waves. My emotions were difficult to control as I tried to process my grief and raise a child at the same time. I began pouring these feelings into my writing, and as the floodgates opened up, I started to feel a great sense of purpose. At the same time, the heaviness of my own grief somehow started to feel lighter.

My children’s book is called ‘Shine Down On Me’ and it will be released in July 2024. It focuses on the complex whirlwind of emotions that come along with grief and loss. Kids may find it difficult to name and discuss their feelings. My book makes connections to the weather and the emotions experienced with grief, in order to support children with processing their own feelings. The little girl in the story conveys all of these conflicting emotions as she navigates through her daily life. My aim is to help validate all of the BIG feelings that come along with this difficult experience. The waves of grief can be so sudden and startling. It is possible to feel sad, angry and joyful all at the same time.

There are messages of hope in the story as well, once the character begins to understand her grief. She is able to remember her loved one and keep their memory alive. This story is very much about missing someone who is emotionally present, even if they are physically absent. I hope that my book will support families by empowering children to understand and discuss their own feelings of grief and loss. By creating a safe space to have challenging conversations around losing a loved one, I hope that grieving kids and their families will know that it’s completely natural to experience all of these conflicting emotions. Grief and hope are always intertwined as we try to navigate through the joys of everyday life in the absence of someone who we’ve lost. I’m still living through this myself.

As I continue to work on my book, I am also in the process of creating a website that will be full of free resources and downloads to support grieving children and their families. This includes hands-on activities and templates. Writing this book has been a healing process for myself, and a creative way that I hope to help others who have had similar experiences. I really want to convey the message that you are not alone in your grief. To be able to read a resource such as ‘Shine Down On Me’, is a way to make connections and build that understanding that we are not actually alone, there is a whole community of grievers out there.

For more information about Nina, you can check out her website.


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