Synopsis: One day when they see him feeling sad, Sammy’s aunties reveal a secret to him: his mum wrote her name in Sammy’s heart. From that day onwards, Sammy discovers that a person’s love does not disappear when they die, but stays imprinted in us forever. Sammy realises that he has an amazing present inside that will accompany him always, that does not break, and is worth more than all the gold in the world, because it is made of love. This discovery will give him strength to carry on and will help him in the process of healing his heart, as well as the hearts of other boys and girls that, like him, have also lost someone they love.
Sammy Found a Treasure was declared of Media and Cultural Interest by the Parliament of the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2020, a great honour. It seeks to accompany children who are going through a bereavement, but also aims to be a tool to enrich the emotional world of all children in relation to a topic that is usually taboo, until it happens close to home.
After going through a family bereavement, we decided to write a story for children that would deal with this theme. A book that would help children in their grieving process.
We have always been interested in books that help children to overcome different difficult situations. For years we have shared our discoveries from one side of the ocean to the other. However, when we started looking for children’s books on bereavement, we couldn’t find one that dealt with this from the perspective that we wanted to focus on, so we decided to write it ourselves, together, each contributing from our own specialty: Psychology and Communications.
We wanted to do a book that would help to reflect on the theme but that, most of all, would really help the children in their grieving process. Something that would be cheerful, with beautiful colours, hopeful and positive. We wanted to highlight love, but without cancelling out or hiding grief. We wanted it to be realistic and that it would open the door for conversation. We wanted a book that the children would like to pick up, hold, read and read again. And that it would also serve the heart of each of those who read it with them. We decided to focus on the power of love and its ability to transcend death. Every word was thought out with great love. It is a story that was forged from deep within, starting out from a very sad reality of a family death, but also from the desire that children have the strength to get through such loss. We hope you like it. We'd love to hear from you.Click here to leave us your comments.
We created this space in order to answer some questions that you might have after reading the book and to give some background about what we wanted to convey through it. We would like the story to be more than an enjoyable read, but a tool and a trigger to talk with the children about the loss of a loved one.
The idea came from having heard that there are experiences that can mark us forever. There are experiences that are so strong and important that they mark our hearts. So too, the most important people in our lives leave an indelible mark on us. It occurred to us that this is the most important gift that someone can leave behind to those they love: a mark of love.
When Sammy's mum wanted to say goodbye, she did so with a present. And what is the best present that one can gift? Love. She loved him so much, that her love became imprinted in Sammy’s heart forever. Love truly leaves a mark.
We started from the basis that when someone dies they do not take with them the love they gave to us; but that love remains with us, protected in our hearts.
The love imprinted in Sammy’s heart is his great treasure. It's very valuable. So valuable, he says later, that it is worth more than all the gold in the world. One can give many things, but the best gifts are those in which one gives something of oneself, or gives oneself. There is no greater gift than love given to others. You cannot purchase it in a store or on the internet. This gift is so special because his mother gave it to him, so he treasures it dearly.
Sammy already had this treasure with him, but he hadn't yet realised it. It is his aunties who point it out to him. It is then that he becomes aware of what he carries inside and grasps what it means to him.
Sammy knows that some gifts are to be shared with others. They multiply when they are shared. That is what happens with love, and with his treasure. He knows it is so valuable that he wants to tell other children as well. Love, after all, opens us up to others.
Sometimes other people's stories help us to reflect on our own lives. Sammy invites us to discover those treasures that we have inside and that we might not have discovered yet.
In a special way, he invites children who are experiencing bereavement to discover the love that their loved one has left behind with them, written in their hearts. That discovery helps Sammy in the journey of healing and might also help in the journey of other readers.
The person that died doesn’t necessarily have to be a mother to be able to empathise with Sammy. It could be a dad, a sibling, a grandparent, a relative, a friend, a son/daughter. We hope that many will discover their own treasures from Sammy's experience. We are sure that this story will touch the hearts of little ones and grown-ups. We are never too old to discover the treasure.
Yes! The book talks about how, when we love a person, we leave our mark of love in their heart. It invites us to discuss how powerful love is, and the effects of our actions each day. No matter how big or small, they can mark the hearts of others, fill them with love. We can tell them that we love them so much that they already have our names written on their hearts.
There are realities that can be talked about from the time that children are young. Nowadays, children read about various topics, even though they mightn’t have experienced them yet. This enables them to grow in empathy and become more emotionally empowered. Understanding Sammy can help them understand better a friend or family member who might be going through a similar circumstance. The book can help them reflect on realities that one day will touch them, but without the emotional charge of the moment, because they are further away from that reality.
Should we talk to children about death? This is usually a taboo topic. We might speak about it at home if someone close to us or a pet has died, but usually only then. In the meantime, we choose to avoid talking about death as long as we don't need to. Why? Because it is difficult, we do not like it. It makes us sad; it scares us.
We do not discuss death with children because we do not want them to be distressed. We believe that if we avoid the topic, we will also avoid the distress that it may bring about. However, this is not the case. Not talking about death does not mean that the topic doesn’t cause anxiety in children. Perhaps they mightn’t have expressed their worries or they don’t know how to do it. With our silence we might increase their fears and strengthen the taboo.
Talking about this topic can help them to better interpret reality. We can listen to what they know and dispel any strange ideas or misconceptions that they may have, some of which may be terrifying. When we don't discuss the subject with them, they fill in those knowledge gaps with their own theories, which may often be far removed from reality.
What if, when we speak about this subject, they start worrying about their own death and the deaths of their close relatives? This is a worry that arises with life itself, when someone dies. Perhaps it is better to talk about it before it appears so close to reality and mixed with the feelings of having just lost someone. We can tell them that this is Sammy's story, that it is not the same as ours, but that there are things that we can learn from it, that can help us as well. We can reassure them that it would be unlikely that something would happen to us at the moment because we are healthy and with a lot of life inside. Obviously in the event that is the case. It is important not to lie to them. In the event of a serious illness of a family member, it can help to lay the preparatory groundwork that the child may need when the inevitable happens.
We can explain to them that there is a cycle in life. We are born, we grow up, we get old and then we die. Sometimes there could be an accident or a very serious illness that prevents the cycle from completing the way it normally should, but this is the exception. We can tell them not to worry about bad things because they may never happen. We can reassure them that they don't have to worry about death until they are older, but that it is important that they do know about it and that they can feel free to ask any questions that they may have. We can also tell them that they have a beautiful life to take advantage of and to live full of love.
Sammy was feeling sad. He knows that he has lost someone very dear, that they are gone and will not be coming back. At another point in the story, Sammy says: "Sometimes, I still get angry and sad." It's logical, he misses his mother. He wants her to be there with him physically and alive. Some children think that the person that died is going to come back at some point. It is very sad to realise that this is not going to happen, however, it is essential that children understand that death is irreversible.
The book is also an opportunity to talk to children about their feelings. To let them know that it is not wrong to feel sad or angry. It is normal; it is part of grief, and also normal within the process of healing. They may also experience fear, anxiety, jealousy... There are many feelings that will surface during the bereavement process. It is important that they feel supported, that they know that they are not alone, that we are there to accompany and help them in whatever they need, without pressuring them.
While sharing their feelings can help the children feel relieved and supported; sometimes they may prefer not to say anything at first. What is important is that they have the tools to identify what they feel, be able to put a name to those feelings and be able to share them when they need to.
We can tell them that it is important to listen to their heart and that now it is hurting, but little by little it will begin to heal. Time will help with that and also a lot of love. On that path there will be ups and downs, steps backward, and a lot of learning.
How lovely it would be if we could go back in time, to those moments when we were with that beloved person. To be able to freeze those moments, as in a photo, and stay there. It would be amazing; Sammy would love that and so would we.
It's not the same, but somehow, we can go back in time and access those frozen moments through our memories. While we read this story, we can think of that person and make them present again in our memories; feel embraced by their love once more.
Sammy's mum knew that she was running out of time; she would have done anything to stay a little longer, but it was not possible. This motivates her to think of that person she loves and leave them a very special present. When someone has little time left, they leave with us the most important thing of all.
Sammy's mother did an immense act of love before she died. We know that it is immense because “she gathered together all her strength". That is how she imprints her name on Sammy's heart. She will no longer be there, but she leaves her love with him, marked in his heart.
How lovely it is to know that we are loved. And truly loved. With a love so strong that it leaves a mark in us. It is a very special seal, as it is made of love and love still lives within us. Knowing that we are loved and that we have that love within us, can help us keep journeying forward. It also helps us to be grateful for the time that we spent with that person, for the love we shared. This feeling of gratitude does not eliminate our sadness, but it does the soul good to know that we were loved and that this love has not been lost with death; it stays with us marked in our hearts. This discovery is a treasure.
Sammy did not notice or feel anything special when his mum marked his heart. He learnt about it when his aunties told him. How did she do it? With lightning? Actually, if we really think about it, we receive people’s love every day. It is difficult to highlight a specific moment. The mark in Sammy's heart started to be written little by little over the time they shared together; or even earlier, when his mother dreamed of him and he was still in her tummy. In reality, it is not by a great act of love that hearts are marked, but rather, by many smaller acts of love over time. Until the very last moment, Sammy's mother thought of him and loved him. Even though we may not have felt it or seen it when it happened, we all have our hearts marked by the love of other people.
The mark that is imprinted in Sammy's heart is not just any mark. It is a personal one.
Sammy's mother doesn’t leave a random mark in her son’s heart, but what was really her, what defines her and what contains her essence: her name. It occurred to us that if love could imprint one thing, it would be that, the name of the person.
When you fall in love with someone, the first thing you want to know is the person's name and you could repeat it endlessly. It is as if we could understand the whole person, capture their essence, just by saying their name. It sums up the person and describes them. Someone's name is special. We all have a name and it is the most personal thing we have.
The word "Mum" becomes imprinted in Sammy's heart. Why? We wanted this story to speak to many boys and girls, so we couldn't write a particular name. On the other hand, we wanted Sammy to feel that the gift his mother left for him was "special", because no one else had it. (In the case of siblings, it would still be a special mark, as only the siblings would share it as such.)
Sammy discovers that his mum also wrote her name in the heart of other people. However, the mark on other people is not the same as his. Sammy's mother's love for Sammy is a very particular love: it is the love of mother to a child, different to other loves. That is why the mark in Sammy's heart says "Mum."
Every day we are witnesses to the incredible things that love can do. If love can move mountains, it can also mark hearts. Have you ever been a witness to some other amazing things that love can do?
It is healing to know that we have something of that person and that we cannot lose it.
Sammy may have some jewellery or a handkerchief or other memento from his mum too. Every time he looks at it or touches it, it reminds him of her. Similarly, knowing that he has that mark inside of him also helps him to remember his mother, it helps him to feel that she is with him. Differently to having a physical object, this mark does not age or get lost, it does not break and is always with him.
A child who discovers such a valuable treasure can be afraid of losing it. It is reassuring for Sammy to know that he can get on with his everyday life because there is no way his mother’s mark will get lost or dirty, be broken, stolen, or fade away.
Children often feel anxiety or fear of forgetting the deceased person. Many of the readers of this book will be very young, and may not remember everything about the person they have lost as time as time goes by. Memories fade for all of us. That is why this line of the story is so fundamental: we wanted the children to know that the love that the special person left written in their hearts will always be with them, regardless of how much they can remember. We thought it would be nice to reassure them that this love they have inside is strong and will remain, even if they forget. They cannot lose it.
This shows how powerful love can be. It can leave a mark forever. Sammy was loved this powerfully and that is why this discovery, in turn, encourages him to love others as well.
Sammy thinks of his mother wherever he goes, night and day. Perhaps it does him good to be surrounded by many people, or perhaps he feels her absence then even more, not to mention when he's alone. We want to encourage Sammy. Despite having lost his mother, he will have her love with him wherever he is. Her love is still with him and can give him warmth. She is also present, in some way, in the memories that he holds.
Sammy will always miss his mother. On ordinary days, and also on special ones, such as anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, holidays… He would give anything to share, live, laugh and cry with her. In a mysterious way, thanks to the fact that her name and love are written in his heart, his mother will be present. Her love will accompany him along the way.
Experiences, memories and times lived are part of us forever. It is probably difficult for Sammy to see photos and hear about his mother. That will remind him of her absence. On the other hand, remembering is a way of going back to the love that his mother gave him and that his heart has absorbed. Despite making him sad, Sammy discovers that doing this does his heart good. How does he know? He can see that the seal in his heart shines brighter. It as if it rekindles a fire that is inside of him and that gives him warmth.
To remember the people we love is good for us. Even if they are not physically with us, they are still part of our lives. It was important to us that the children know that it is natural to continue talking about that person and that it helps us.
Just like Sammy, the child who reads this book will always hold that special person in their heart. They will always be able to remember them, when listening to a song, when looking at photos, when listening to anecdotes or stories about this person and, thus, they will feel a little bit closer to them. The person will not be physically present, but their memory and love will be present within those that they loved.
Sammy will need a lot of courage to keep on going; there are things that will be difficult for him. We wanted to encourage him and give him courage. How? Explaining to him that the love we receive from other people transform us and gives us strength. When someone dies, the love that they gave us continues to transform us and strengthen us.
Children need a lot of hugs and cuddles, lots of love. In the seal that Sammy carries, love has not been lost, and it continues to embrace him. There are going to be dark nights, but Sammy will be able to get by thanks to the power of love. Love fills our soul.
When one loses someone dear, jealousy and a sense of injustice can arise. Why do you have to suffer this and others don’t? It is not fair. Sammy feels an emptiness that his friends probably don't. Seeing them happy and enjoying their families can remind him of his loss. However, Sammy discovers that he also has something very valuable: a heart marked with the name of his mother.
Although the mark that Sammy's mother leaves in her son's heart is unique (because love is unique), we thought it would be nice and healing for him to know that his mother was also loved by many people and that they were loved by her.
Sammy is not the only one who is sad, the only one who suffers the loss of that person. There are other people who, like him, are also grieving. His mother also left a lot of love in other hearts: of family and friends. Her love was written in their hearts forever too.
This discovery makes Sammy feel happy, accompanied: there are others who miss her too. Between them, they can support each other on the journey ahead. It is terrible to feel alone. Well, Sammy is not alone in his grief. It is important that he knows this and that there are many who will help and support him in his life.
The story can also speak to the hearts of those family members and friends who read the book with the children. Grown-ups also need to heal and this could be an opportunity to open up and share their feelings with the children, tell them that they feel sad too. Showing ourselves vulnerable is also good and we can help each other to heal. This small line in the story can be a sacred moment of sharing.
As in The Little Prince, we wanted to emphasise that "what is essential is invisible to the eyes." Children are not going to see a mark on their own heart. Sammy doesn’t physically see it either. In the story, Sammy closes his eyes and knows that he has this mark, even though his eyes don't see it. He actually doesn't need to see it, because he knows it is in there. He does not doubt the love that his mother has left him.
In real life, however, there are those who do need to see with their own eyes. How many people are there that get a tattoo with the name of their loved ones on their bodies. They do this to never forget them and to let everyone know how important that person is to them.
That the mark is not visible does not mean that it is not real. It is a mark on the spirit. A philosopher may challenge us that immaterial things cannot be written upon… We know, but yet people and experiences do leave a mark on us. Love, above all. All you have to do is ask someone who has lost a loved one. Or someone in love. Ask a mother or a father, a couple, a child.Our gift to our little readers is to let them know that the name of the person that they have lost is marked inside of them, with that person’s love, forever.
We wanted to be very respectful of the beliefs of the children and relatives who are going to read the book. We wanted to contribute some ideas that could help everyone, regardless of their creed and beliefs. The story is not contrary to faith nor does it seek to replace it, and it can complement it.