A Child's Perception of Death and Grief Essay

A Child's Perception of Death and Grief Essay

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Death and dying is a natural and unavoidable process that all living creatures will experience at some point in life, whether it is one’s own person death or the death of a close friend or family member. Along with the experience of death comes the process of grieving which is the dealing and coping with the loss of the loved one. Any living thing can grieve and relate to a loss, even children (Shortle, Young, & Williams, 1993). “Childhood grief and mourning of family and friends may have immediate and long-lasting consequences including depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, behavioral disturbances, and school underachievement” (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2006, p. 61). American children today grow up in cultures that attempt to avoid grief and deny inevitability of death (Shortle, Young, & Williams, 1993). Irreversibility, finality, inevitability, and causality are the four factors relative to a child’s understanding of death. These four components are relative to a child’s developmental level at the death is occurs (Willis, 2002).

According to Andrews and Marotta (2005), “the level of development has direct bearing on how children conceptualize and cope with death” (p. 39). There are four factors relative to the perception of a child’s death. The first being irreversibility. During irreversibility, children do not understand that death cannot be reversed, and it is even harder for one to understand death when one has never experienced it before. Finality is the second factor, it is not understood by children that it is final and cannot be fixed or reversed (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2006). Children easy get confused with time, and how it changes throughout the day, the month, the year, and even seasons, therefore it is even harder for o...


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...., & Kaufman, N.D. (2006). And then the dog died. Death Studies, 30, 61-76.
Kirst-Ashman, K.K. & Hull, G.H., Jr. (2006). Understanding generalist practice. (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson.
Perry, B.D. (2001). Death and loss: Helping children manage their grief. Early Childhood Today,15(4), 22-23.
Shorle, C.N., Young, P.A., & Williams, M.A. (1993). Understanding death and grief for children three and younger. Social Works, 38(6), 736-740.
Wass, H. (2003). A perspective on the current state of death education. Death Studies, 28, 298-308.
Willis, C.A. (2002). The grieving process in children: Strategies for understanding, educating and reconciling children’s perceptions of death. Early Childhood Education Journal, 29(4), 221-226.
Zastrow, C. & Kirst-Ashman, K.K. (2007). Understanding human behavior and the social environment. (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson.


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