HOW do you explain the big questions of life and death to children?

That’s the question at the centre of a new book published by the Revd Dr Joanna Collicutt, in collaboration Lucy Moore, Martyn Payne and Victoria Slater and the Bible Reading Fellowship.

Seriously Messy has strong links with our own DeathandLife project – a project spearheaded by Joanna and Victoria. Death and Life, launched in late 2018, provides resources, courses and meditations to help church and pastoral leaders to approach conversations about death and life.  The new book has been approved by experts at SeeSaw– an Oxfordshire charity that helps support children work through grief and bereavement.

Speaking at a book launch at Church House Oxford, Joanna outlined how ideas for the book came about. “As people who, because they are entering this last phase of their life are standing on this threshold of the life to come and are seen as visionary prophets of the life to come,” says Joanna, outlining the diocese’s work on living well in the end times. How do we listen well to older people, especially in areas of death and dying?”

She said these ideas sparked creative workshops, which are on the website, helping older people to express their theologies of death and dying, and the idea that Messy Church would be a good forum to promote death and dying.

The book is a mix of theological and practical, including Messy Church session plans written in an accessible way.

“You can talk to children about when their budgie dies, or when Granny dies, but the reality is that children lose parents, In some parts of this country children are faced with accounts of violent death on the streets all the time,” says Joanna, who until recently was the Diocese of Oxford’s Spiritual Care of Older People advisor. The book launch included drinks and nibbles and a discussion about how to help support children and families during times of bereavement.

Seriously Messy is available from BRF for £8.99.