Comforting Anxious Children’s Soothing Story Selection # 4
By Janis Gioia, MAEd.
Separation anxiety and grief leave children feeling the loss of peace and comfort.
The Invisible String, by Patrice Karst, helps children and adults ease the pain of separation anxiety and grief. With whimsical illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, The Invisible String reminds readers that they are always connected to those they love via the sweet imagery of an invisible string.
The book tells the story of twins Jeremy and Liza who are frightened one night by a raging thunderstorm. They run down the hall to their mother, wanting her presence to comfort their anxious thoughts. Snuggled in her arms on a big over-stuffed chair she shares a secret with them: they are always connected to her by an invisible string of love.
Karst told me that she created the story years ago to comfort her young son who struggled when she dropped him off at day care. One day she told him that an “invisible string made of love always connects us…all day long and forever and ever—no matter what.”
The soothing image, of an invisible string that forever connects us to those we love is powerful: it brings peace to children who struggle with separation anxiety or to those struggling with any of a number of losses:
- Struggling with separation caused by new beginnings: preschool, new school
- Missing a loved one who has died
- Missing a parent or sibling who is incarcerated
- Feeling lonely in hospital or hospice settings (or missing a loved one who is hospitalized)
- Missing a parent who is deployed as part of military service
- Struggling with loss and separation due to divorce and new living arrangements
- Missing birth families and siblings while in foster care
Patrice told me that people around the world email her, sharing how The Invisible String helps them through dark and difficult times.
Three Ohio (USA) prisons use her book to assist children who are temporarily separated from their parents who are incarcerated.
A team of chaplains and hospice bereavement counselors read The Invisible String to children who were preparing for the loss of their baby sister. After hearing The Invisible String , one of the young girls began wearing a string bracelet to remind her of her baby sister who was now in heaven.
After experiencing the loss of her father and early childhood trauma, a young girl wrote Patrice a letter. She shared that a nurse gave her The Invisible String and that it helped her feel that her father was still with her.
These are just a few examples of the thousands of lives that have been touched by the soothing idea of an invisible string connecting us to those we love.
A companion to The Invisible String, The Invisible String Workbook: Creative Activities to Comfort will be available in the fall of 2019.
I highly recommend this link to the Activity Kit where you will find creative ways to comfort children experiencing separation anxiety and loss. Ideas like making an Invisible String bracelet or Hearts from Above (grief and loss) will help children (and adults) on their grief journey.
These soothing activities are perfect for children struggling with loss of any kind.
I asked Patrice if she had any advice to share with parents who are struggling as they help their child with anxiety or other special needs. She said, “Support, support, support. Find other parents that are going through the same challenges and hold onto each other’s hands as you walk this path together.”
“Pray to whatever/whoever you believe in for strength, courage and as best as you can manage, have a sense of humor. Know that you are doing hero’s and angel’s work and that you efforts do not go unnoticed by the powers that be.”
The Invisible String gently comforts children, but also supports the parent or caregiver of a child with a mental health challenge or a disability.
The book, Patrice says, helps your child deal with separation and reminds you of “The Invisible String of love that connects us all.”
“No one is ever alone,” Patrice concludes.
What beautiful, comforting thoughts to hold on to.
Wishing you Peace, Jan