• Children's author Kristie Groat-Barber with her family at her book launch (NITV)Source: NITV
The sudden death of a father and grandfather has inspired this new children’s book that hopes to bring peace and understanding for young ones experiencing loss.
By
Medika Thorpe

15 Jan 2018 - 3:06 PM  UPDATED 15 Jan 2018 - 3:10 PM

I love my Poppy so very much, his stories, his cuddles, his gentle touch. It’s our forever love that nothing can break, beautiful memories we’re going to make’

These are the heartfelt words from a mother to her children.

Our Forever Love tells a story of one little girl’s journey to say goodbye to her grandfather while keeping him firmly in her heart.

Wiradjuri woman, Kristie Groat-Barber was inspired to write the story for her daughters, and extended family, after the sudden and tragic loss of her father Steven Groat in 2015.

She quickly realised her children were struggling to understand the passing of their grandfather and their own feelings of grief and loss.

"I wrote something down just for them hoping that a short story could maybe help them understand and bring them some comfort and peace. Almost instantaneously, I saw a change in them. They started to understand that their feelings were normal and it's ok to feel that way", Kristie says.

Originally from Orange in the central-west of New South Wales, Kristie comes from a large tight-knit family where the importance of elders is taught and respected, and grandparents are central to their lives.

“We as Aboriginal people hold our grandparents in such a high esteem our relationships are so special, a lot of us were even raised by our grandparents and they are usually our first and most significant loss to cope with” 

“We as Aboriginal people hold our grandparents in such a high esteem our relationships are so special, a lot of us were even raised by our grandparents and they are usually our first and most significant loss to cope with” she says.

When realising how much her written words helped her children through their healing journey, she was encouraged to send her story to a publisher with the support from family and friends.

Just a month after writing her story, Kristie sent it to a children’s publisher and three weeks later she got a call back to learn her book would be published. The 18-month process which included collaborating with an illustrator to develop the book was a new but exciting experience for the mother of three.

“I really didn't expect to hear anything back from the publisher, so to say I was surprised would be an understatement. I was a little nervous but mainly excited to share our story,” she says.

"This book came about completely by chance. I wasn't an aspiring author or ever thought I would write a book. It is an amazing feeling and something I’m really proud of."

“This book came about completely by chance. I wasn't an aspiring author or ever thought I would write a book. It is an amazing feeling and something I’m really proud of. I hope those children and families can find some comfort and peace throughout it's pages."

Kristie’s eldest daughter, 13-year old Maikiira expressed what the book meant to her, “It’s a beautiful tribute to my Pop from my Mum intended to help any other family that’s been through such tragedy”.

On Saturday, Kristie celebrated with family and friends the book’s official launch in Gosford on the NSW Central Coast.

Her brother Mitchell spoke in awe of his elder sister and reflected on his father at the launch.

“Dad was so selfless in everything that he did, he never worried about himself and to have something so beautiful and big dedicated to him like this, he would be so overwhelmed and humbled”, Mitchell said.

Kristie hopes this book will help others.

“It was important to me to tell this story because I saw how much it helped my children and I'm hopeful that it could potentially do the same for other young children”, she says.

“Ultimately my hope is that this book can be used as a tool to help other parents and children going through similar circumstances”.

Our Forever Love is available from booktopia.com

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