ERIC Number: EJ811394
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Aug
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 17
Grief and Loss: Towards an Existential Phenomenology of Child Spirituality
Walters, David A.
International Journal of Children's Spirituality, v13 n3 p277-286 Aug 2008
Western cultures have taken on a death-denying and grief-avoiding dimension, suggesting that children in particular are to be protected from the harshness of loss and death. As a result, many children grow up without having consciously experienced the pain of major loss and grief. It is argued that having been spared from suffering, from the pain of working through their grief, they are being subjected to a form of emotional and spiritual abandonment by those around them. As Soren Kierkegaard asserts, it is these very adults who come to play the role of "thieves" or "bandits" in their misguided attempts to protect children. As father of existentialism, Kierkegaard and his followers have suggested notions of self, being and spirit that assist in developing a phenomenology of child spirituality. The existential understanding of "spiritedness" or "spiritual directedness" appears particularly suitable to children, given their innate qualities of openness, the desire to understand, their qualities of innocence and purity. The case of Simon is discussed, not only his adjustment to major loss, but movement through various "modes of being" that require self-assessment, dialectical relationship, and the active choice required of existential psychotherapy. As such, it is argued that when a child is assisted in making grief meaningful, he or she is also afforded an opportunity to enrich their spiritual resourcefulness and that this serves as both model and inspiration to adults around them.
Descriptors: Religious Factors, Grief, Psychotherapy, Phenomenology, Coping, Religion, Spiritual Development, Case Studies, Self Evaluation (Individuals), Children
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A