ERIC Number: ED370037
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994
Dying and Death: Helping Children Cope.
Ledezma, Melissa L.
This paper suggests strategies for helping children understand death. The early experiences of childhood build the foundation on which the child establishes a healthy orientation towards life and living. Grieving parents are often so upset by their own loss that they do not carefully explain death to their children. Parents may feel that the child is too young or that they are protecting the child from grief, but the child ends up confused and unsure about death and dying. Although children frequently see people and animals dying in the movies and television, death is not an easy thing for a child to understand. Parents or guardians should be honest and open about death and receptive to a child's questions. Children should know that it is okay to cry and parents must realize that children of different ages interpret death in various ways. The death of a sibling is presented here as especially difficult for children to understand. They may resent their parents for not preventing the death or they may feel guilt themselves and that they somehow contributed to their brother's or sister's dying. A parent's death may also instill great anxiety about who will take care of the child. Death is often associated with the elderly. Unexpected deaths particularly leave children confused and angry. Therefore, open discussions rather than attempts to hide reality are necessary to help children cope with death. (RJM)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A