Grandson’s question inspires Beavercreek woman to write children’s book about grief

Kim Vesey, the general manager at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton and hospice nurse for 36 years, has written a series of books about grief and loss, aimed at children and their families. CONTRIBUTED
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Kim Vesey, the general manager at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton and hospice nurse for 36 years, has written a series of books about grief and loss, aimed at children and their families. CONTRIBUTED

The pain of loss can be overwhelming. Our nation is experiencing a season of loss and many people of all ages are struggling with grief. Children, however, are often overlooked in the process as adults in their lives work through their own pain.

Kim Vesey of Beavercreek has been a hospice nurse for her entire professional career. Now in her 36th year of helping dying patients and their families at the end of life, Vesey said her work has taught her so much about death and dying and helped prepare her for loss in her own life.

“I have encountered significant personal losses in my life,” said Vesey, who is the general manager of Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. “My husband, Les, died at the age of 49 from colon cancer. My dad died unexpectedly in 2015. And my daughter, Sarah, died in 2017 at the age of 29.”

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After Sarah’s sudden death, caused by a severe asthma attack, Vesey realized that Sarah’s son, her then 3-year-old grandson, Warren, was having difficulty understanding what happened to his mom.

“Warren asked his mother about death when a family friend died several years ago,” Vesey said. “He asked Sarah where heaven was, and she told him it was in the clouds.”

This simple explanation remained with the small boy, who ended up losing his mother just nine months later. Warren’s simple question to his grandmother – “What cloud is my mommy in?” both broke her heart and inspired her to think of ways she could help Warren and other children through loss and grief.

“Warren asked me very heart-wrenching questions about his mom,” Vesey said. “So, I decided I was uniquely qualified because of my hospice work and personal experience to create a series of books.”

Vesey’s first book, “What Cloud is Mommy In?” was published in 2019 and tells the story of a young turtle whose mother dies suddenly. As the story progresses, it touches on emotions that children may feel, questions they may ask and on activities that help remind them of happy times spent with their mothers, including an entire year of holidays from Halloween to Christmas to Mother’s Day. Vesey chose Amy Gantt, a local artist, to illustrate the book, and it features drawings created by Warren.

Vesey's inspiration for her "What Cloud" series of books is her daughter, Sarah, who died at the age of 29. She has published four books in the series and will publish two more this spring. CONTRIBUTED
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Vesey's inspiration for her "What Cloud" series of books is her daughter, Sarah, who died at the age of 29. She has published four books in the series and will publish two more this spring. CONTRIBUTED

“I was writing the mommy book in memory of Sarah when several members of my widows support group asked if I could do a ‘daddy’ book,” Vesey said.

Vesey decided then to create a series of “What Cloud” books, focusing on the loss of fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers.

“These books include activities that families can share together,” Vesey said. “They will learn it’s OK for parents to cry and be sad in front of their children, but it’s also OK to laugh again.”

Vesey is currently working on two new books designed for brothers and sisters. They will focus on two boys who each lost a sister and then attend a grief camp together. They are slated to publish in April of this year.

“A young mother with a 2-year-old son shared the story of her daughter who was born with severe congenital issues and died shortly after birth,” Vesey said. “For her son, there are no memories about his sister except holding her on the day she was born. Her unique perspective inspired me to merge several ideas for these books.”

Vesey said comments about the first books in the series have “warmed her heart” and now they seem to be helping more families than ever with the losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“More than 9,700 Ohioans have died as a result of the virus,” Vesey said. “Death from COVID-19 is leaving families with complex grief due to the inability to be with family members when they died and the sudden loss of previously healthy individuals.”

And while parents and grandparents are helping children through grief, it turns out they are also helping themselves deal with their own sadness in the face of loss.

“I wrote these books because my professional and personal experiences showed me that adults struggle with how to help children through grief,” Vesey said. “It’s important to understand that children grieve too, even when they are very young.”

With Warren, who is now 7 years old, Vesey continues to work through the grief they both feel at the loss of Sarah. He often initiates discussions about his mom and asks some difficult questions like “Will my mommy ever come back and hug me again?”

“These types of questions really tug at the heart,” Vesey said. “I’ve learned how important it is to be open to his thoughts and questions. I try to validate his feelings and provide support. I tell him I wish his mommy were here too but when someone dies, they can’t come back. I really miss her hugs too.”

Vesey’s “What Cloud” books are available on Amazon.com and a portion of the proceeds from the book sales is donated to non-profit organizations that support grieving children.

Contact this contributing writer at banspach@ymail.com.

Vesey partnered with illustrator Amy Gantt, who owns LulaBell Art and Design in Oakwood. Vesey is shown at a book signing at the shop. CONTRIBUTED
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Vesey partnered with illustrator Amy Gantt, who owns LulaBell Art and Design in Oakwood. Vesey is shown at a book signing at the shop. CONTRIBUTED