By Elizabeth Silance Ballard
A heartwarming story of a child’s grief over the loss of her older sister and how a little fan touched her heart.
A Word from the Author
The story of Kate’s fan is based on the experience of my grandmother whose sister died at age eight when my grandmother was only six. The year was 1906 and it was fashionable for young girls of that day to carry fans. Some were homemade and occasionally some were “store bought.” When Kate became ill, a neighbor brought her a lovely fan on a ribbon to wear around her neck. Before Kate died, she specified that she wanted her sister, Bessie, (my grandmother who is the “real” Beth) to have her little fan.
Bessie lived to be 91 years old and during her lifetime she must have talked about her sister, Kate, and the little fan hundreds of times. We never grew tired of hearing it or of making our own little fans like Grandmama taught us. She and Kate had been very close and were best friends. She never forgot Kate and made sure we never forgot her. She always commented that no one in her family had ever realized how devastated she was when Kate died.
It is my hope that her story, which I have updated and moved into the present, will help other children identify with Beth and open up communication with parents, teachers, or counselors and promote healing.
Elizabeth Silance Ballard
To Counselors, Teachers, and Parents
From Reiko Schwab, Ed.D
Faculty Emeritus, Old Dominion University
“Kate’s Fan” takes the reader on a heart-warming journey as the story of love, loss and grief unfolds gently, focusing on the relationship between the two sisters. A particularly touching episode revolves around a hand-made gift left by Kate for her sister, Beth, to discover. The little fan serves as a symbolic presence of her sister in Beth’s life.
The author understands the effects that a child’s dying and death can have on the family. Stressed and grief-stricken parents are often unaware of, or unable to attend to, the needs of well children, leaving them feeling confused in life and alone in their grief with nowhere to turn.
“Kate’s Fan” speaks to all children, helping them reflect on their own and others’ experiences of loss and find ways that give meaning to the valued relationship which continues to exist in the memory after the death of a loved one. Children will benefit from talking to adults about their reactions to the story which may be related to their own loss or that of others they know.
(Dr. Schwab taught in the counselor education program at Old Dominion specializing in subject matter relating to grief and loss. She has counseled with many bereaved children and adults; and, for twenty-three years, provided a support group for bereaved parents in the Norfolk-Hampton Roads-Tidewater area of Virginia.)
Dr. T. David Phillips, Pastor
The bonds of sisterhood run deep and strong. In this short and powerful story, we feel and experience death, grief, and ultimate healing through the eyes of a child. Elizabeth Silance Ballard has effectively captured and expressed the love of family that transcends time and never dies. This book is a wonderful tool to use with children experiencing grief and loss as it gives words to their pain.
Edith Price, Elementary School Guidance Counselor
As a counselor, I think the story would definitely help a child dealing with the death of a loved one or even a pet. Also, I believe that, even though the book is written on a child’s level, it would be helpful to parents or grandparents who are dealing with their own grief while trying to help the child.
Malissa Phillips, School Social Worker
The book touches every aspect of the grief process. I would definitely use it in my work.
Tammy Hinson, Elementary Classroom Teacher
The little fan made by Kate gives Beth and her parents the closure they need in dealing with the loss of someone they all loved dearly. I believe children of all ages will appreciate the heartfelt style in which Elizabeth Silance Ballard has embraced and communicated this life narrative.