When Mathilde du Blois met a young couple who did not know how to tell their child about the death of a loved one, the French-born designer began researching and soon realized that parents around the world, from all walks of life, struggle to talk about death to their children.
While there were a few good children’s books on the subject of loss and death, there were no options that offered deeper engagement and practical tools that could help alleviate anxiety parents feel when confronted with children experiencing the loss of a loved one.
Mathilde wanted to find creative ways to make these conversations a little easier and so, in consultation with professionals in England, France and later, South Africa, Mathilde developed Nino’s Mourning Toolbox for young children up to 8 years old.
In Nino’s Mourning Story, the central character is Nino – the little green dinosaur with a really big heart. He has many confusing feelings after the death of his sister, Annie. With the help of his mom, Nino navigates the five stages of grief as described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. At each stage of the bereavement process, Nino’s mom sets up an activity and parents can adapt these in order to bring Nino’s story into a relevant experience for their child.
The book, available in English, French, Afrikaans and Xhosa, is also accompanied by a digital app with the original story, plus songs and additional games which can be downloaded for free on the App store: Nino’s Mourning Toolbox.
The complete Nino’s Mourning Tool Kit also offers a powerful therapeutic tool for parents and healthcare practitioners, especially those using the Montessori and Vittoz sensory method who can facilitate healing play using Nino and all the characters featured in the story as wooden figurines.
“It is a great tool, and the kids I have dealt with have connected with it straight away” said Reinette Du Preez, a Trauma Counselor in South Africa. Nino’s Mourning Tool Kit has already helped families, psychologists, and practitioners in hospitals and care centers in South Africa and is now available all over the world.
Based on the success of Nino’s Mourning Story, Mathilde has gone on to develop The Nino Collection with more stories to help families to talk about difficult topics. “Nino is having a brother” tackling the tricky subject of sex and reproduction has already been released and “Nino and the Dragonfly”, about the cycle of life, is in development.
Nino is a charming character that now exists as a soft toy, much loved by his many friends, many of whom are free of the burden of grief. He has become a trusted friend, bringing comfort and joy to the family. Plans are underway for Nino to get a new skin so that the little green dinosaur can be easily cleaned and disinfected. Nino is a big advocate for hand-washing and teaching kids and grown ups how to stop the spread of infectious diseases.
Nino has a special place in his heart for sick kids and loves to go on playdates to hospitals and clinics. He recently attended the Family Day for Rare Diseases South Africa where he got to meet and play with many children living with health challenges.
The new Plush Nino will be ICU approved so that he can bring comfort to kids even when they are in hospital and we would love your support with our crowd-funding campaign launching on the 1st of April on www.ulule.com to help fund a new skin for Nino.