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RILEY in the Rafters

‘Without her, the world seemed

too large and too lonely,

and Riley felt too small

and too lowly.’

RILEY in the Rafters, is a deeply moving picture book story about a juvenile possum trying to make his way in the world after the death of his mother. It’s a story of grief and loss and the irreversible reality of the death of a loved one. Riley feels frightened, lost, alone. How can he go on without his mother? When he finally falls asleep, Riley dreams of her. Through his dreams, he feels her love and hears her words of encouragement.

‘Remember me, Riley, honour me.

Look after you, my son. Honour you.’

His mother's words give him the courage to 'step out from his home in the rafters, into the world of night.'

Since RILEY in the Rafters came into this world, his story has been bringing healing to adults and children alike. Even so, at times, I vacillate between the wisdom of producing a children’s picture book that is bound to generate tears, and the fulfilling of an important need despite potential discomfort. (Crying has been a regular occurrence at book launches and author events, but I am always assured that they are ‘good tears’.)

The mother of one young reader related that her son cuddles his Riley book like a teddy bear as he falls asleep at night. She contacted me after a book event to purchase an extra copy, feeling it was essential to have a spare to hand.

RILEY in the Rafters has found its way into schools and libraries, and within organisations that deal with childhood grief. It is also in the hands of psychologists, counsellors, social workers, and in the hearts and homes of many families. Many adults have purchased it as healing for themselves. And many parents, have bought it as a segue into a discussion with their children around that very delicate topic of grief and loss.

Most of us store thoughts of mortality in some deep recess, possibly in the hope that denial will transform it into a comfortable unreality. We don’t like having it up front and visible, possibly especially for our young ones. But young ones lose loved ones too. Riley in the Rafters provides a pathway into talking through what grief and loss is, and of coming to understand that we honour loved ones lost, by honouring ourselves.

RILEY, in the Rafters provides a gentle, supportive message that our loved ones are always with us, in our memories, in the values we shared with them, the lessons we learned from them, and from my point of view, in spirit as well.

Riley’s story inspires us to live our best life.

From Dianne Mckissop, Director, National Centre for Grief and Loss

"Riley in the Rafters fits beautifully with our philosophy that relationships live forever.

It is important to learn how to use memories to enhance our feelings of connection and to draw on the wisdom inherent in our relationship with loved ones who have passed."

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