Grief, Loss, Death & Dying

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Goodbye RuneReview - Goodbye Rune
by Marit Kaldhol and Wenche Oyen
Kane/Miller Books, 1987
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Oct 28th 2002 (Volume 6, Issue 44)

This unspeakably sad picture book tells the story of a young girl Sara and her best friend Rune.  They often play by the local lake together and one day they make a plan to make a fish shop together; he will catch the fish and she will build the shop.  Before Sara goes to collect sticks, they hug and Rune kisses her on the cheek. When she returns to the lake, she finds her friend lying face down in the water.  She runs for her mother, and her grandfather goes to the lake.  Sara cries in the arms of her grandmother.  Adults explain to her that Rune is dead, but Sara finds it hard to understand that she will never see him again.  She could still picture his face clearly in her mind.  Several days later she attends the funeral and sees many of the adults crying.  She wonders what would happen if Rune woke up in his coffin and wanted to get out.  She worries that he will be cold during the winder months.  When at last the snow starts to melt, she asks her mother if Rune is still there, and her mother explains that Rune’s body is slowly turning into earth.  Even after all those months, Sara feels the loss of her friend keenly.  The book ends with the Spring, when Sara goes to Rune’s grave and plants flowers. 

Goodbye Rune is beautifully illustrated with pictures showing the terrible sadness in Sara’s eyes as she wonders what has happened to Rune, and her feelings of loss when she thinks of Rune.  The adults in the story do not try to comfort Sara with religious ideas of Rune now living in heaven, but instead kindly but directly explain to Sara that Rune is gone.  The story makes clear how hard it is for Sara to accept Rune’s death and how her imagination can give her frightening images of Rune being conscious in his coffin; it shows that such fears are natural and are not a sign of stupidity.  Similarly, the story shows how her Sara’s mourning may last a long time, and it does so in an accepting manner, with no hint that Sara is being silly or self-indulgent.  The sudden death of children is hard for anyone to come to terms with, yet many people suffer such a loss.  This book may help young children to understand a little better what is happening should they experience such a loss. 


© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.


Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the general public.


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