Only One of Me – a picture book for bereaved children

I'm a white woman sitting in my wheelchair holding Only One of Me - a children's picture book. The photo is cropped so you can just see part of a wheel, my skirt and lap, hands, and brown plait. And my white cotton blouse, which has a hint of Victoriana going on.

Only One of Me is a book for bereaved children. I took this photo of me holding it in the autumn, just after my friend Gael (mybreastcancerstage4life on Instagram) died. And then I didn’t have it in me to post it. 

So many children have lost parents in the past couple of years. This is a book for them. To help them understand what must be an incomprehensible loss for a young child. 

Text reads "There's only one mum quite like me. I'd sooner there were five. I'd tell you how I love you every day I were alive." Illustration by Catalina Echeverri shows a mother playing with her child.

I have to be specific. This book is for children with a parent who is terminally ill or has died. We wouldn’t recommend it for children who aren’t in this position, and didn’t read it to ours.

Help my children learn to live
If one day I should die.

Give them all your time and love.
Lead them far and wide.
Keep them safe and hold them tight
Long after I have died.

Only One of Me, by Lisa Wells and Michelle Robinson

Most picture books about bereavement approach the subject gently, and aim for a broad readership. And there are some wonderful ones out there. I’d recommend:

But Only One of Me is not that. 

It was written by the late Lisa Wells and her friend Michelle Robinson back in 2018 – a love letter to Lisa’s own young children, who she knew she wouldn’t live to see grow up. 

Lisa wanted it to be direct. She didn’t want a book that talked

“about mummy being in the stars or something. My girls wouldn’t understand that. They’d want to know when I was coming back.”

Two books – a mum and a dad version – were produced in record time. Beautifully illustrated by Catalina Echeverri and Tim Budgen, and published by Graffeg. Everyone waived their royalties. 

The covers of the mum and dad versions of Only One of Me side by side. In each, a parent embraces their  child. Their eyes are closed and it's a tender hug of comfort. The strapline below the title reads "a love letter from mum" and "a love letter from dad".

Just after it came out in 2018, a father near us died – shockingly, unexpectedly. We gave his wife a copy. She told us later they’d read it out at his funeral. 

Only One of Me is out in paperback this month. And I am pleased. Because I hope it’ll feel easier for people to give a paperback to a family in this position – less of a big deal.

Please just remember it. Because we all hope no child we know will ever need it. But if they do, it’s here. 

You can find more, including genuinely helpful, practical advice from a child psychologist at

~ onlyoneofme.co.uk ~

I don’t think I ever mentioned this book to Gael. It would have felt so close to the bone, and she didn’t have picture book age children.

The connection is only in my head. I wore governess chic in the photo at the top because that was Gael’s jam. 

I miss Gael. Just as Michelle must miss Lisa.

This book is a wonderful legacy to leave. 

– Lucy Catchpole

A portrait of Lucy Catchpole, with leaves.

[Image description:

  1. I’m a white woman sitting in my wheelchair holding Only One of Me – a children’s picture book. The photo is cropped so you can just see part of a wheel, my skirt and lap, hands, and brown plait. And my white cotton blouse, which has a hint of Victoriana going on.
  2. A spread from the “mum” book. Text reads “There’s only one mum quite like me. I’d sooner there were five. I’d tell you how I love you every day I were alive.” Illustration by Catalina Echeverri shows a mother playing with her child.
  3. A photo of Lisa Wells – a white mother with blonde hair – with her daughters. The youngest is newborn.
  4. The covers of the mum and dad versions of Only One of Me side by side. In each, a parent embraces their child. Their eyes are closed – it’s a close hug of comfort. The strapline below the title reads “a love letter from mum” and “a love letter from dad”.
  5. A photo of two white women in their 30s, our text reads “Only One of Me was written by friends Lisa Wells and Michelle Robinson, before Lisa died.”
  6. A photo of a white woman wearing a facemask, she’s smiling and pointing ironically to a sign that reads “danger of death”. Our text reads “My friend Gael – @mybreastcancerstage4life on instagram.]

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