top of page


My name is Dr. Kristie Polk. I teach college psychology, speak publicly about grief, and recently, I became the author of a collection of resource books I call "The Bereavement Buddy Collection". I'm most proud of my 32-year marriage and being a good mom to my kids; my adult son and my daughter, who passed away in 2021.

The Need for Sad Panda

The year following my daughter's death, we lost 3 family friends - all dads leaving behind stay-at-home moms of multiple kids. I knew how hard my own grief journey was despite my deep education, extensive experience in leadership, and strong support system of dedicated friends and family, and I immediately thought of my friends who, not only didn't have those advantages but were also grieving while also trying to meet the needs of small children.

I had been researching grief and loss for several months already and after the third loss I was inspired to start writing - not a typical children's story about loss, though. I wanted to create something that would equip adults without any prior knowledge to come alongside small children and grieving families to help them navigate their grief in a meaningful way; I call them "Bereavement Buddies". That is what inspired me to write this collection of books.

Sad Panda

Sad Panda, intended for children ages 2-6, centers on a simple character, Sad Panda, who is sad because someone he loves has died.

  • Illustrations are intentionally sparse to provide plenty of white space for children to draw their own details, to project their feelings onto Panda without any guilt or fear of how a parent might react, and to guard against further feelings of isolation through details in pictures that may not reflect their life or experience.

  • Simple prompts and lined writing pages are provided throughout to help a child process their own thoughts.

  • The 3-fold purpose includes:

    • an opportunity for a child to connect Sad Panda's story to their own in a non-threatening way

    • a meaningful way to create memories for the child to be able to look back on over time and healing

    • a written record for a loving adult/therapist to refer to (whether the child is old enough to write or the adult writes for the child) as needed.

1_Sad Panda_CoverPic.jpg

A Companion Guide to Sad Panda  

A Companion Guide to Sad Panda: For Parents and Other Bereavement Buddies, intended for adults, is a quick reference guide to introduce a parent (or another caring adult - a Bereavement Buddy - ideally) to all the ways a child can present grief.

  • It explains what a "Bereavement Buddy" is and is not, and details appropriate language and critical ways to communicate along the way to allay fear and rebuild security.

  • It includes a plan for telling a child that a loved one has died, walks through a child's stages of development, discusses how grief may appear in each stage, and even reviews how loss affects a child's development moving forward.

  • Reflection prompts and lined writing pages are provided throughout to help the Bereavement Buddy to plan, prepare, and process their personalized navigation "plan" in a natural way.

  • The 3-fold purpose includes:

    • confidence-building based on knowledge and preparation

    • a "culture" of assessing and adjusting without judgment to best meet the child's needs

    • support to ensure that a Bereavement Buddy maintains appropriate mental health to continue assisting well.

        Sad Panda: The Journal

Sad Panda: The Journal, intended for pre-teens, includes pages with ample space for writing

  • thoughts,

  • feelings,

  • inspiring quotes (either from their loved one or others they find encouraging),

  • questions they have,

  • what they're learning on their own grief journey, and

  • contact information to keep track of their support system along the way.

  • Ample space is provided to include pictures, drawings, and other special memories to help young grievers find ways to connect and bring their loved ones along without fear of "forgetting".

  • Pages are purposefully not dated to avoid any compulsion to write or guilt for not writing.

  • The prompts are repeated cyclically throughout the journal in the hopes that growth will be evident as the user looks back on previous writings.

Sad Panda Journal_cover PNG pic.png


Follow Me.

I'm always happy to meet new people. Let's connect!

bottom of page