A little boy builds a shelter, in which he can look after his Sadness, with all the care, empathy & acceptance that he knows it deserves. Sadness is a soft & scruffy little character, who shifts in shape & size & seems to know what it needs, if the boy looks & listens well. Sadness holds its own beating heart, which is visible, not hidden away & we see the boy treat it gently & without fear. This is a story that honours sadness & invites us to explore our relationship to it.
The beautiful illustrations show us how sadness can alter & elicit different moods, like the different seasons of the year. Whatever the season & however big or small, loud, or quiet sadness becomes, we are shown that it has a right to be there. We see that the boy can shine a light on Sadness or hide it away; visit it as often or as infrequently as feels right, & we are reminded that there will be good reasons for doing both.
In therapy, parents & carers will speak with me about their child’s anger – how quickly it comes & how big it gets. One challenge for us is to be curious about what this anger might be hiding or protecting, & so often we find sadness. Traumatised children can be terrified of connecting with their sadness, scared that to do so might overwhelm them with painful memories from the past. We must have patience to help children face & explore their sadness in their own time –build confidence that feeling sadness & vulnerability does not have to be frightening & they are not alone in dealing with it. Help build resilience, so that revisiting old hurts does not become retraumatising.
The boy gives Sadness a garden, where it can smell the flowers if it wants to. Together they can look out on the world & discover how beautiful it is. We see that sadness can exist alongside hopefulness & other emotions. Denial of sadness can be numbing & dulling of all our emotions. A Shelter for Sadness gives hope that learning to accept sadness can add a depth & richness of colour to life’s palette of experiences.