The death of a loved one is a difficult topic. It can be especially challenging when it comes to discussing grief with kids.

That’s where The Great, a new book by a Turks and Caicos author, offers some warmhearted assistance.

Rachel Gregory is intimately familiar with navigating loss. She witnessed her mother’s losing battle with breast cancer in 2016, then suffered the devastating loss of her first child to extreme prematurity the following summer.

Those back-to-back losses changed the path of Rachel’s life. While the pain “never goes away,” she said, by facing that pain she found the courage and strength to transform it into a wonderful gift.

When Rachel learned she was pregnant again less than a year after the loss of her first-born son, her joy was tempered by complicated emotions. “I was still grieving, but I decided I wanted to find a way to be creative through the process.” That’s when Rachel had a pretty ‘great’ idea.

As she imagined how her unborn daughter might one day want to talk about the older brother she never met, a story began to form in Rachel’s mind. She spent the remaining months of her pregnancy writing a children’s book that addresses the bereavement process centered around the theme of inspiring hope.

Writing wasn’t an entirely new experience for the 30-year-old born on the island of Grand Turk. Though an accountant by trade, Rachel had enjoyed creative writing as an undergraduate before earning her master’s degree in International Accounts and Finance.

The result was the tender and inspiring story of Gracie, a courageous third-grader whose family helps her deal with grief through creativity and hope.

When Gracie’s premature baby brother passes away, Gracie’s parents help her deal with her grief by suggesting she create a special memento to honor her brother. Gracie’s personal memorial inspires her classmates to create their own “Forever Stars” in remembrance of their lost loved ones.

“My aim with The Great is not to focus on the pain of the loss, but to find hope and inspiration in any painful or traumatic situation,” said Rachel. “Everyone can relate to loss.”

After celebrating the birth of her beautiful daughter in 2018, Rachel went to work on getting the book out to any family it could help. The Great was released to market via Halo Publishing in April 2019.

Its reception has been abundantly positive both at home and abroad. The book is available via online retailers and, as well as in select bookstores in the US and Canada. “Speaking to parents and children at the book signings has been overwhelming in so many ways.”

These days she’s grateful that something beautiful evolved from her grief.
“I hope it reaches an audience it can really help,” she said. But the results so far, are “beyond my wildest dreams.”

Rachel Gregory Image: Lemens Welch/Caya Hico Media