Grief is Amber Kuipers’ persistent companion. When it comes to her children, the best way she can convey its magnitude is as a physical entity.
“Once I began describing [grief] as a visual representation, my kids connected to it better,” she says. “Now, I can say, ‘my grey is really big today,’ and they understand.”
When she was 17, Kuipers’ father passed away in a farming accident. After having her children, she struggled to explain death and grief to them while still navigating her own loss. The idea of a children’s book lingered in her mind.
“Children’s books can be so powerful. When you combine simple words that get down to the bare bones of the message and then illustrate it using white space or other formats, you can communicate a message in a way the written word doesn’t always capture.”
I always wanted to use my grief to help others but felt totally inadequate….God kept putting it on my heart, so I went to write and the story just came.
Released in August 2021, When Grey Came to Stay tells the story of a young girl named Julie and her journey with grief after her father’s death. Much like how Kuipers portrays it to her children, “Grey” is a cloud that follows Julie and grows larger and darker depending on the circumstances. From the initial idea to the time she sat down to write, Kuipers views the process as a huge step of faith.
“I always wanted to use my grief to help others but felt totally inadequate. In February 2021, a friend told me they knew a publisher and that I should give the book a chance. God kept putting it on my heart, so I went to write and the story just came.”
Knowing God on a personal level remains her sustainable source of comfort.
“The fact that Christ experienced all human emotions during his time on earth helps me. His heart breaks for the losses we experience and the gaping wounds death leaves.”
Outside of the fanfare that comes with being a first-time author, Kuipers’ goal remains simple: to provide hope for grieving children and their families.
“Grief is more than just sadness, and it’s not linear. It won’t ever leave, but you’ll find ways to be happy and celebrate the one you’ve lost. For those who haven’t experienced loss, I hope this is a way to encourage grief literacy and make it easier for all of us to go through.”
When Grey Came to Stay is available at 21Five, Redeemer’s campus bookstore.