About the Book

Ruairí’s Rocket to heaven is a children’s book about sibling loss. It is written to help families, carers and professionals explore, and navigate the difficult topic of death and bereavement with children from the age of 4+ years old.

The story is about the life and love between two brothers, Charlie and Ruairí, their time together, and Charlie’s journey navigating life after his brother’s death.

In the first part of the story, it describes a beautiful little boy Ruairí, his life with his older brother Charlie and the things they enjoyed together e.g. playing, bath-time, cuddles and more.

The second part of the story is about Charlie’s journey finding his way in life without his brother as a young boy, learning to understand the big and difficult feelings grief brings such as sadness, anger, confusion and fear, and discovering ways to find comfort in his memories and express his love for his baby brother.

Ruairí’s Rocket to heaven is a story of heartbreak, and hope, and of everlasting love and connection between two brothers. Unfortunately it’s a story that isn’t just my family’s, many young children have to go through this, and it’s my heartfelt hope that this book brings can provide some guidance, comfort, understanding and hope to other children and their families as they navigate the difficult and complex landscape of grief.

The story was illustrated by Beth Cole. Beth is an amazingly talented, considered and intuitive artist. She illustrated my boys and the emotion inside each memory within the story so beautifully, just how I envisioned. It was an absolute pleasure to work with Beth. You can find her work at instagram.com/herebythewoods

 Book Reviews

Check out the reviews section on this website for more!

This book is a gem! It can be so incredibly difficult to find books for siblings who experienced the death of a baby and had some time and memories at home before their death. There are several books about pregnancy/infant loss for siblings and even a handful of books on the death of older siblings, but this category can be very difficult to find. So grateful to have this book filling the gap. Highly recommend this book.

From From Jessica Correnti (MS, CCLS, Children’s Book Author), Kids Grief Support.


Death is certainly a sad and painful part of life; however the loss of a child is most probably the most difficult. Sadly, many families do have to go through this agonising experience of grief and loss, and books like “Ruairí’s Rocket to heaven” are a beautiful tool to support parents in talking about this loss to their grieving children. The book is beautifully illustrated with soothing and clear story presentation. It explores feelings like sadness, fear, anger and confusion and looks at different ways to process that grief as a family. It uses clean language like Ruairí died which is very important when speaking with children about death. I certainly recommend this book for any family struggling with the death of a small child and I think this book should be available worldwide. Thank you Breege Hoyne for sharing a story of your heart and for helping other families navigate this difficult and painful terrain.

From Joanna P.A Moore, Author of Love is a Gift


I wanted to say thank you for creating such a helpful resource for people trying to make sense of family life after a brother or sister has died. I have 3 children myself (now all grownups) and I can only imagine how our family would be so different had we needed to do the grief work you so generously show us in RuairÍ’s Rocket to Heaven. Throughout the book you take such great care of the reader’s feelings and the gentle illustrations by Beth are so powerfully placed on the page. Charlie your inspiration for a rocket to take your young brother to this place called heaven is just a lovely image to hold amongst the sadness and anger of grief. In my experience of listening to many thousands of bereaved children (I am old!) I find that they so often are comforted by the idea of a Heaven…and Rainbows …just like you show in the book. The most important thing about your book is that it will spark so many useful conversations.

Julie Stokes OBE, Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Founder of Winston’s Wish


Let RuairÍ and Charlie take you on a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love and loss, hurting and healing. A childhood story that can’t fail to touch the depth of your soul. A story that so truthfully and poignantly captures what it means to be a brother or sister grieving the death of their little sibling, with a broken heart that is steadily being put back together. But this isn’t just a story for the heart. The creation of this book itself is the story of a mother, who after watching her son struggle along the cruel path of grief, is compelled to help others know that they are not alone and that healing will come. Breege couldn’t have found something more needed or more precious. This is because it isn’t often that a young child’s brother or sister dies. So they are cast into a lonely experience that their friends do not share or understand. Yet when a child finds their thoughts and feelings represented in a character like Charlie, they are no longer alone. The toxicity of feelings like loneliness and fear lose their power in an instant. In the character of Charlie, this is what children across the world can find, with sweet illustrations to feed their imagination. 

 The death of a child is one of the most intensely painful experiences a human being can suffer. RuairÍ’s Rocket is a rescuing rocket for siblings who are grieving. Whether you are parent, grandparent, teacher, therapist, counsellor or friend, when you read this story to a grieving sibling you are saying “I want to talk to you about death and dying”. This is a precious message for a child to hear. Open this book, enter Charlie’s world and let it help you and a child talk about what they’re feeling. Let it help you share the burden of a child’s grief. Let the magic of the story touch you too. 

Sarah Hodkinson, Head of Family Support Services at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, and associate professor of music therapy at the University of Southampton.


 At Rainbow Trust, it is important that we don't shy away from talking about death and dying. Resources like RuairÍ's Rocket to heaven open up the conversation with children, enabling them to speak about their own thoughts and feelings. We will be sure to add this to our kit when supporting our families.

From Natalie Whitby-Lear, Family Support Worker.