St. Paul author’s book helps children process grief

Book published 46 years after it was written


St. Paul author Jean Havlina-Madsen has devoted her life to helping and educating others. After years of working in pediatrics, she entered the hospice field and became involved in grief education and facilitating grief groups. Through this impactful work, she realized that grief can be a difficult emotion for children to process, which fueled her desire to write a children’s book about grieving the loss of a loved one.
Her debut children’s book, “Attic Day,” creates a space where kids and their family members can experience and work through their grief in a healthy and meaningful way. By reading this sentimental book, she hopes children will learn to better understand loss and manage feelings of sadness while fondly remembering their loved one who is now gone.
Havlina-Madsen initially wrote Attic Day 46 years ago, but found that no one was interested in publishing a children’s book related to death and dying. When the COVID-19 pandemic left many children grieving the loss of their loved ones, she knew it was time to share this story with the world.
“I couldn’t find any books for young children on this subject. When COVID hit, I was overwhelmed by the number of deaths that left children without a parent,” Havlina-Madsen said.
In the story, a little boy and his family head up to the attic every fall to clean out things that have been put in storage throughout the year. This year, “Attic Day” is a painful occasion as the little boy’s father passed away months earlier. Together, the little boy and his mother and grandpa face the grief head on and uncover forgotten treasures while sharing stories and memories of their lost loved one.
“Today is not a holiday or the first day of school or even my birthday, but it’s a special day at my house. We even have it written on our calendar: ‘ATTIC DAY,’” the book reads.
Havlina-Madsen, who resides in Macalester-Groveland, hopes this story will emphasize the importance of acknowledging and embracing grief while celebrating the lives of those who have passed away. By reading this touching book, children will gain valuable insights into the grieving process, find solace in shared experiences, and cherish the memories of their loved ones.
“If this book reaches a handful of children [who are grieving], it will bring me joy,” Havlina-Madsen said.
Attic Day is available for purchase on the Blue Balloon Books website and everywhere books are sold.


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