It's been a long road for author-illustrator Liv Lorkin to come to terms with her mother's death.
The former Ballarat woman, who is now based in the Illawarra in NSW, grew up in a small country town in Victoria and remembers being only one of two people at school who had lost a parent.
Mrs Lorkin felt it wasn't talked about enough while the grief was quite "isolating" and it has taken her years to be able to deal with the emotions, so she has channeled that into a powerful book she hopes will fill an unmet need for grieving kids.
"It was quite isolating in that grief not knowing anyone else who had experienced it and despite [statistics showing] one in 20 children in Australia will lose a parent before they reach the age of 18," she told ACM.
"One of the larger hurdles that I faced was that she [my mum] was kind of like ever-present in photos on our walls, but was never actually talked about."
Sage and the Journey of Grief, is a short novel aimed at tweens and teens which takes readers on a journey with a girl moving through the stages of grief after the sudden loss of her mother.
Mrs Lorkin's dad has read the book and told his daughter he is "super proud" of her achievement, but still finds it too painful to talk about the past, something she hopes will change over time.
She especially hopes the story will find its way to the hands of younger readers, who need help dealing with grief in a similar way.
"Maybe someone's lost a sibling or a grandparent or even a pet," Mrs Lorkin said. "[It's about] making children feel less alone."
Sage and the Journey of Grief is available through Scholastic or via the author's website: www.livlorkin.com
PLOT: Until her mum passed away, grief was as foreign to Sage as the countries she travelled to. With her faithful dog Snowy by her side, Sage explores and experiences the stages of grief.
Joined by her dad, Sage navigates the winding road of loss with her butterfly-covered journal. As her dad would say, "There's no right way to grieve". He's there to help her navigate it in her own space and time.
Sage quickly learns she's not alone in losing someone she loves. Between school, soccer and grief, life is a balancing act. She's unsure how to tackle everything at once, but the journey is unfolding one page at a time.