A Picture Book for Kids -
Cry, Heart, but Never Break

This beautiful picture book for kids addresses the difficult topic of death and grief.  Originally written in Danish, it is now available in English and tells the tale of a night when Death visits the grandmother of four children.

It begins...

In the far north, in a small snug house, four children lived with their beloved grandmother.  A kindly woman, she had cared for them for many years.

Now she had a visitor.

Cry, Heart, but Never Break
Picture Book Summary

The children do their best to distract and keep Death from visiting their grandmother upstairs lying in bed,   Death drinks coffee and takes his time, but finally he must move forward.

He pauses to tell the children a story though.  He tells of two brothers named Grief and Sorrow who meet two sisters named Joy and Delight.  They discover the balance that comes as Grief marries Joy and Sorrow marries Delight.  They realize they need each other.

Death says is it is the same with life and death.  What would life be worth if there was no death or who would enjoy the sun if it never rained?  The children don't fully understand, but know he is right and life must move on.

Death walks upstairs and in a whisper says to the grandmother, "Fly, Soul, Fly, fly away."

Looking at the children, he says quietly, "Cry, Heart, but never break.  Let your tears of grief and sadness help begin new life."

Any time the children opened the window and felt the breeze, they would think of their grandmother.  The breeze almost felt as she was still touching their sweet faces.

In the years that followed, the children lived with their joy and their sorrow.  They allowed their hearts to grieve, but never break.

What I love about this book:

  • I love that Death is illustrated as a gentle older man and not a monster.  He is kind and understanding.
  • The story Death tells about the need for both grief and joy, sorrow and delight will help kids and adults remember the beautiful balance of emotions God has given us.
  •  This picture book gives permission to grieve - "Cry, Heart."  Grief is necessary for a time, but isn't meant to last forever - "but Never Break."  Hope is just beyond.

How to Make the Most of the Read

Book discussions

Gently opening a door through which children can share their grief and sorrow, this picture book also prepares them to handle such circumstances in a healthy manner.

  • Take time to talk about how the four children must have felt.
  • Talk about the story Death tells and what it means.
  • Talk about how Death is portrayed and if it helps them not be so afraid.
  • Talk about how even when we lose someone we love, the love we have for them and the memories never die.  They are gifts we can hold on to and cherish all they will always be to us.

Spiritual development

Use this picture book as a spring board to talk about what the Bible has to say about death and the hope that can be found in Jesus.  Death is not the end, but a door.

Here are a few:

  • John 11:25-26 "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever  lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
  • John 14:1-4  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:55-56. “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
  • John 10:9-10 "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."

And God promises to be with us in these times - 

  • Psalm 34:18  "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Intellectual & Emotional Development

Use the story of Sorrow, Grief, Joy & Delight to think of other opposites. 

Talk about how even the negatives help us appreciate the positives such as:

  • How would we appreciate sunny days if we never had rainy days?
  • Would we understand hot if there was no cold?
  • If there was no hunger, would we really appreciate being full?

Also point out that there are times in life that will be difficult, but it will be okay; they don't last forever.  Good days will come again.

More picture books for kids about death & grieving