When Linsey Davis’ seven-year-old son came home in a huff, asking, “Why do my friends have two grandpas and two grandmas, and I don’t?” She knew she had some explaining to do.
Emmy Award-winning news correspondent, anchor of ABC News Live Prime and World News Tonight Weekend, best-selling author Linsey Davis came out with a new release titled, “How High Is Heaven?”
An uplifting and imaginative children’s book inspired by a moving personal experience she had with her son, this story gives hope and comfort to young readers that there is heaven on earth, and it’s open to us all.
In times of COVID-19, many parents are challenged with the heavy task of explaining grief and loss to their young children. As a mother, Davis knew first-hand how important, yet puzzling, conversations like this would be not just with her son, but also many children like him.
The story came to life after her son became infatuated with the heavy question of, “Where’s Grandma P (his paternal grandmother)?” Davis was forced to explain the philosophy of God and heaven.
“I showed him pictures of Grandma, and pictures of them together, but he said ‘No, I want to go see Grandma! I want to go to heaven!’ He had this real preoccupation with going to heaven to see Grandma P,” Davis reminisced.
Fast-forward a few weeks, while on a plane, Davis’ son’s frustrations about where Grandma P was, arrived again.
“I just immediately decided that death and heaven and what happens before you die is a complicated conversation, but kids are curious and they ask questions, so I knew it was something I needed to write about.”
A woman of strong faith, Davis believes that heaven is a place all can look forward to while living their best lives, and that we can find moments of heaven here on earth. This is something she passed on to her son, giving him much comfort.
“Now more than ever than ever, kids need to have this understanding [of God and heaven] on some level to offer them some kind of solace. These are people they love and saw every day, and the book doesn’t get into it in a deep way, but it’s a palatable way that allows children to understand.”
The story shows vibrant and whimsical art such as a little boy using Legos to build a staircase to heaven, or him trying to bounce his way there on a pogo stick and trampoline. However, at the arch of the book the boy finds out, in church, how one reaches heaven’s gates.
Davis explained that “for now, he can enjoy the fact that there’s little bits of heaven on earth, and rest assured that he’ll see his grandmother one day.” When asked why she believes loss is importance to explain to children, Davis touched base on how present loss is during these times.
“[Children] are experiencing it. You have to be able to explain it in a way that opens conversation and offers comfort…there are certainly some ramifications for this new generation of more than 200,000 kids who will grow up without a primary caretaker. We have to address this in some way.”
This book is a part of a multiple-prong approach for children to understand death and loss. The idea of heaven gives comfort that they will see their loved ones again.
Davis also discussed the difficulty that adults may have with explaining this to children in the process of grieving themselves.
“It’s really tough when you’re a parent dealing with loss, but I think you have to be honest about what you’re feeling. If you’re crying, I don’t think they need to be shielded from it all the time. They can get a glimpse of it and understand if you’re feeling sad, you need to release. It’s okay to be authentic about your experience.”
In times of grief, Davis believes it’s important for parents to show children optimism. Having a belief system can help because people often need something that shows they can get through tough times.
“You have to show that we push through, and that things will work out. The idea that you now have a guardian angel once someone is gone can be a very reassuring message.”
In terms of her own healing, writing “How High is Heaven?” provided an outlet for the news correspondent to escape hard times.
“Writing children’s books is uplifting. It’s a way to tell good news in a happy space, when my day job is heavy. So, this has been a bit of a relief for me in the midst of reporting death, fear, and sadness in the news.”
The book will delight readers, young and old, with its engaging art, read-a-loud rhymes, and a message that give thanks to God’s grace, while describing temporary feelings of heaven on earth. “How High is Heaven?” hit shelves and online retailers on February 15.