JKP Commissioning Editor Caroline Walton and Marketing Executive Claudine Harris were delighted to attend an event at the House of Commons on Wednesday 6th February to celebrate the publication of What Does Dead Mean?  A Book for Young Children to Help Explain Death and Dying.

The event was hosted by the Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP and the Angus Lawson Memorial Trust (ALMT), and also celebrated the work of the ALMT and their collaboration with bereavement counsellor and co-author of What Does Dead Mean?, Jenni Thomas.

It was both a moving and uplifting evening. Speeches were given by Keith Vaz, the authors of the book Caroline Jay and Jenni Thomas, and Nick Lawson, the founder of the ALMT. Two short films were shown, the first of a young boy, bereaved of his sister, reading and talking about the book. The second of a six year old boy and his sister talking about their mother who had recently died of breast cancer. The film was shot 20 years ago, and the young boy, now grown up, was at the event.

These moving films, as well as the reading of a beautiful poem written by a bereaved mother, served to highlight the importance of a book that helps children to try to understand what ‘dead’ means, and to talk about their feelings. Jenni Thomas, a bereavement counsellor of many years’ experience, spoke of how important it is that children can ask questions about death and be given clear answers.

After the speeches and films, Keith Vaz very kindly treated us all to a wonderful tour of the Houses of Parliament, complete with tour guide patter, jokes, and greetings to politicians, Baronesses and others that we passed along the way! After a visit to the gallery of the House of Lords, where we happened to enter as John Prescott stood up to speak,  we were ushered on to the floor of the House of Commons, where we practiced our ‘hear hears’ and jeers!

The following day, Keith Vaz tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons which mentioned What Does Dead Mean? and noted that it helps adults to talk to children about death and dying.

You can read the Early Day Motion here:


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