Ways to Hold our Children through Collective Crisis and Grief

Mariah Rankine-Landers
5 min readMar 29, 2020
Me and my baby cousin Giselle in Jamaica, West Indies.

Our children are going through a crisis of epic proportion that they will remember for the rest of their lives. They will experience existential questioning, changes in community and social behaviors. And it is very likely that they will grieve someone they have loved or watch their community grieve for a loved one.

Ways of being are changing. Though a lot of good, joy, and creativity is coming from the adjustment of this time, we are facing collective anxiety, uncertainty and grief. We are experiencing anticipatory grief. Recently Scott Berinato wrote a beautiful piece on the topic “Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain.”

As a lifelong educator, I offer a few ideas and books to support our youngest ones during this time of uncertainty and anticipatory grief. I am not a counselor and so please do understand, that you should always seek help if you or one of your little ones is suffering greatly. I wish you profound care, the stories of your elders and ancestors to remind you and carry you through, and a rooted devotion to the well-being of humanity.


  1. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscalia: I remember my grandmother reading this book to me when I was five. It tells the story of a beautiful leaf being born in the springtime named Freddie. The book narrates Freddie’s life and questions about the world as he matures through the seasons. When winter comes, Freddie is afraid to let go of the branch where he had experienced his whole life. But he does let go and as a young child you realize that you are participating in a cycle of life and that you are not alone in the fear of uncertainty.

2. Where Do They Go? by Julia Alverez: A story that affirms the questions that young children might have about death and dying.



Mariah Rankine-Landers

Mariah Rankine-Landers, Ed.M co-leads Studio Pathways for transformative school and organizational change that centers the cultural and contemporary arts.