WHEN Steven Groat went missing in Canobolas State Forest in 2015, his daughter Kristie Groat-Barber was at a loss to explain it to her three young daughters.
But her determination to support them through the sudden loss of their grandfather inspired a children’s book, Our Forever Love.
“It was not long after my dad had passed and I quickly realised my children were struggling to understand – especially given the nature of Dad’s passing being so sudden and unexpected,” she said of the eventual tragic discovery of her father’s body, weeks after he visited a friend in Orange.
“I couldn’t give them the answers they needed because they were too little, but I had an idea to write something down, just for us, to give them comfort and peace.”
Mrs Groat-Barber said most of the material available at the time related to loved ones who passed away of old age or after a long illness.
“I was important to me to emphasise the sudden passing,” she said.
Mrs Groat-Barber’s story was based on her family’s conversations about Mr Groat and once she completed it, she read it to her children, now aged 13, 6 and 4, and saw an “instant change”.
“They knew it was okay to be sad and I saw glimpses of them coming back,” she said.
“[The title] is in a sentence, what the book is about – no matter what, no matter where he is, you will always share a love.”
I had an idea to write something down, just for us, to give [my children] comfort and peace.Kristie Groat-Barber
Supported by her family and friends, Mrs Groat-Barber sent her story to a publisher.
“I didn’t expect to hear anything back, but three weeks later, I heard from the publisher, who said they wanted to work with my book,” she said.
“I was just over the moon.”
It started an 18-month process working with an editor and enlisting the help of Annelies Billeter, an illustrator she admired from Melbourne.
Mrs Groat-Barber hoped the book would help other parents and children facing similar circumstances.
“That was a massive motivator,” she said.
“I think Dad would be happy to have his memory attached to it, he would be really proud.”
Our Forever Love will be officially launched at an event in Gosford on Saturday and can be ordered online from Booktopia for $14.50 by clicking here.