How Children Deal With Death Essay Research

How Children Deal With Death Essay, Research Paper

How Children Deal With Death

Death is hard to deal with for everyone, but for children

especially; they view death in various ways at different ages.

At these ages children need help and guidance from their parents.

The first step is to help them feel a part of the whole

experience, doing this will allow them to deal with the death.

The rest is counciling and (quick step number two;) the parent?s

main part should be to listen while the child talks, doing this

is very helpful for understanding the child. This is also very

benneficial because it gives the child a chance to get his/her

feelings off, this relieves certain tensions. So in order to

help children get through the grieving process age and maturity

level of the child must be concidered, and council should be

centered around the limitations of those statistics.

Infants are one group, with no real understanding of death

but they can react to the way their parent/s react/s to loss.

When the physical love that a parent can provide is suddenly

missing, the child does have fears of separation. Infants are

also very tuned in to their parents? feelings of stress and

sadness. In relation to these feelings there might be noted

physical expressions such as: crying, crankiness, rashes and

clinging. How one can handle this is to talk with others about

one?s concerns with family members, or even the funeral director;

he/she has a good chance of knowing what to do. Seek support and

help from family and friends. Parent/s should try spending more

time each day with the child to ensure a secure feeling for the

child. (Wolfelt) I have learned on the Discovery channel that

children who are physically touched develop better and more

fully, so loving them patting them and holding them often does

worlds of help. (experiment covered by the Discovery channel)

For children ages two and a half to five; this is the stage

at which the child is likely to confuse death as a reversible

event like sleeping. Or the death of someone close to them could

be viewed as punishment for something they have done; make sure

they know this is not so. Children of this age are egocentric

and believe everything that happens to be caused by them or that

they will ?catch? death and die as well. A child might also

believe death to always be result of violence, this belief might

have come from what they see on TV. Behaviors to look for are:

the child showing little concern for favorite TV shows, going

back to bedwetting, thumbsucking, baby talk or fear of the dark.

These actions may be signs of/ or warn of depression. (Vogel 16)

It is a good idea for the parent might want to explain to

the child how life might be different, daily routines stopped,

parents/family grieving, funeral arrangements, and a house full

of people. Terms such as dead and death should be used to

explain to the child why he won?t be seeing the dead person

anymore. Try and avoid euphemisms they can often mislead, best

use the word dead this is to the point and truthful and will not

lead to conflicts in the future. Reassurance to the child that

death doesn?t hurt is benneficial, the person will always love

the child, as well as: ?we will always remember him?; these

phrases are comforting to hear. Consider the way the child will

act and be ready for any moving(if not disturbing) questions.

(Vogel 16)

For children ages five to nine death is only a possibility

for others, that they are invincible. Whereas those of age nine

to eleven; are more understanding of death, that it is not

partial to anyone, that even they too could die. When there is

death in the family the child may question the biological and

physical aspects of death, or be interested in the funeral

arrangements. If there is a death close to the child

(relationship wise) his/her behavior may include crying, anxiety,

headache, abdominal pain, denial of death, poor grades, hostility

and lack of attention. As well as loss of manual skills,

withdrawal, becoming anti social, turning to drugs and sometimes

may display similar symptoms of deceased person. To help

preteens you can tell them that even though there may be no

feeling of grief at the time, that the grief just might hit them

much later on, or during an event like Christmas. It is good for

children to know crying is healthy, to let it out other wise

stress can build up and life can get miserable. Encourage them

to go to the funeral; this is important for closure, to see the

body peaceful and to verify death is vital for last sight memory

of the deceased to be one of comfort and peace. (Vogel 18)

Since the funeral is a significant event, children

should have the same opportunity to attend as any other

member of the family. They should be allowed to

attend, never forced. Parents should explain the

purpose of the funeral. It?s an opportunity to help,

support and comfort each other, as well as a time to

honor the life of the person who has died. (Wolfelt


Listen to what they have to say, usually just listening helps

immensely. (Vogel 18)

?Touching and holding the child can be as important as

the things we say. Listening means responding to the

needs of the whole person, not just to the words

spoken. It means being accepting rather than

judgmental. It means opening ourselves to involvement

and the possibility of being hurt. Listening is a form

of loving!? (Vogel 16)

Speaking of listening, adolescents can have much to say and

need to be heard. Teens are almost like adults; an adolescent is

more understanding of death and is able to think more abstractly.

However, suicide is looked at as means of getting back at someone

or to teach a lesson. Teens know that life is fragile; this

knowledge shows the complexity of their understanding life and

death, more so than the other ages. Some behaviors to watch for

are that of anger, aggression, wanting to assume a more adult

role in family status and increased risk taking. ?When my mom

died, I thought my heart would break, but I couldn?t cry? (Quoted

from Wolfelt 32) That is true, because I never shed a tear for

my grandfather when he died but that doesn not mean I didn?t

care; he was the type who didn?t want a big deal made out of

himself. Humble if you will. Some response to teens

experiencing death close to them would be to encourage and try to

continue family communication, possibly with trusted friends. It

is important to have lots of physical touching and for the teen

to hear the phrase ?I love you? doing this reassures that though

there has been a death everything is still the same. There will

be possibilities of changes in the family structure.

Death is hard to deal with for everyone, especially for

children, they view death in various ways at different ages. The

important thing is for them to be told the truth and guided with

help from others to enstill in the child a healthy look uppon the

ordeal of death.

Anderson, Sharon D. ?Talking to Children About Death?.

April 1995 revised April 1996 online posting. 11

November 1999. .

Kastor, Elizabeth. ?We?ll always love you, Mommy.?

(widowers Brian Grunenfelder, Keith Chappelow, and

Michael Goshorn). Good Houskeeping July 1998: 116-120,


Marks, Jane. ?We have a problem? (Daughter deals with

Father?s suicide). Parents October 1990: 56, 58, 61.

Vogel, Linda Jane. Helping A Child Understand Death.

New York: Fortress Press, 1975.

Wilken, C.S. and J. Powel. ?Learning to Live Through Loss:

Helping Children Understand Death.? 1991 online.

November 1996 online. 11 November 1999


Wolfelt, Alan D. Ph.D. A Child?s View of Grief.

Colorado: Center for Loss and Life Transition, 1991.


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