How Squirrel and Oak Came to Be

After the deaths of my mother and brother within weeks of each other at the age of 19, I was determined to make something beautiful come from something so dark. I began to use drawing and writing  to assist me with my grief and bereavement experience and continued on for the next 3 decades teaching art as a skill but also using it as a means to express the complexities of my personal relationship with loss. Squirrel and Oak started off being an expression of what I had learned about bereavement and some of the insights and wisdom I picked up along the way. Ten years after the original idea, Squirrel and Oak became a real book that I could share with others who have experienced loss.


Squirrel and Oak: A Story of Hope was written for parents, caregivers, teachers, therapists or anyone who is close to a grieving young person to assist them in having  an honest and safe conversation about loss. The complex feelings surrounding death are not easy to express, no matter what age one is. Squirrel and Oak is a story that can be read and discussed together as the story takes the readers through loss and the bereavement process by way of lovable and identifiable characters. Relying on the the seasons and symbols of nature, Squirrel and Oak takes one on a powerful journey to the understanding that death is a part of the season of life, and that love goes on forever. ​​

Cost: $15  (+$3.50 shipping)

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What's been said about Squirrel and Oak...


"Your book is such a wonderful metaphor for finding hope after loss and incorporating continuing bonds into our lives.  We appreciate all you do for Open To Hope and for the grieving world.  You are an example to all that life does go on after loss."
-Dr. Heidi Horsley, Executive Director: Open to Hope Foundation

"Death can cut through us like a living buzz saw, but as squirrel discovers in this beautiful book, death isn't final. This is a powerful story for all ages and we guarantee it will take your hand and go by your side through your own journey of death, grief and life."
-Joy Johnson, Co-Founder, Centering Corporation and Ted E Bear Hollow, a center for grieving children.

"As a recent widow and mother of two young sons whose father died, I relate so much to this story.  As I read it, I feel acceptance of wherever I am in my process of grief.  I feel readers of all ages will also feel this.  Squirrel and Oak offers hope of moving through grief and coming to acceptance after loss.  I love this open-hearted and spiritual book!" 
-Kathy Bishop, widow and mother.


"The pictures are as beautiful as the message." 

"I loved the colors beginning to end." 

"Gorgeous Illustrations!!"

-Squirrel and Oak Readers

The first 4 pages of Squirrel and Oak: A Story of Hope

​​Squirrel and Oak: A Story of Hope