Mourning book still relevant after a decade

CHARLOTTE, NC — A North Carolina man with years of personal experience dealing with grief still uses a high school project he did 15 years ago to help others.

The project, which was part of a senior class project to graduate from high school, earned him an A and led him to a professional career in grief counseling and therapeutic services.

What do you want to know

  • Former high school student, now a professional psychotherapist, still using the book he wrote in high school to explain grief to children
  • Copies of the book were sent to communities in Sandy Hook and Uvalde after mass school shootings
  • Author and psychotherapist Jesse Roberts says his own experience of losing 14 parents at age 26 inspired both his book and his professional career

Jesse Roberts, now owner of Charlotte Counseling and Wellness, says professional psychotherapy and counseling became his passion.

“We are a group psychotherapy practice specializing in a variety of areas helping people with mental health issues, life transitions, relationship issues, grief, bereavement, trauma,” Roberts said in his office. of Charlotte.

Roberts worked in counseling for several years, including at a hospice and medical organ donation team. He says he enjoys helping others find peace or happiness after bad experiences.

“I love being able to help people create the best versions of themselves,” Roberts added.

But his journey into professional counseling actually began in 2007, when he wrote a book as a high school graduation project.

“It’s a children’s book that creatively helps adults explain the emotions of grief that come with loss,” Roberts said of browsing through the old draft.

“Katie the Ladybug, Explaining the Emotions of Grief to a Child” comes from her own experience of grief and loss.

“I lost both my parents very unexpectedly at different stages of my life, my mother when I was 4, my father when I was 16,” Roberts said.

After high school, Roberts said the project sat on his desk gathering dust. At the same time, at the age of 26, he had lost 14 loved ones.

So he decided to publish it in college while doing internships and other entry-level jobs dealing with grief counseling.

“All of these experiences, my life experiences, kind of led me into this field, so to speak. I hope I can use these experiences to make a difference in the lives of people in need,” Roberts said. .

Shortly after the book was published in 2012, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred. So, through donations and other public support, Roberts sent over 500 copies to Connecticut.

The book eventually disappeared from his mind until last year, when there was another mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas. One of Roberts’ friends sent copies of his book to Uvalde’s library after it reprinted 1,000 copies in November.

Roberts says the shootings, 10 years apart, show the sad relevance of his book 10 years later.

“It’s very heartbreaking to me that there’s still such a need for this book. But, it’s very obvious that it’s not something that’s going to go away. And so, hopefully, this book can be a tool used to help children around my age, or even older, better understand the emotions they feel as a result of these tragic losses that continue to happen and plague our country,” Roberts said.

Locally, Mecklenburg County Smart Start purchased 125 copies of the book for each of their classrooms after Roberts reprinted it in 2022.

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