Bereavement Experienced by Children

The whole family is in mourning. For children, questions and anxieties may resurface much later because perception of the reality of death varies greatly depending on age.

Up to the age of 3, death has no meaning for a child. It is still in a magical world, death is not final, it is reversible.

Between 4 and 6, the states of life and death are not antagonistic. They are two different states. Death is always present. He is in heaven, but he sees and hears what is happening on earth. A child does not fear death as do adults, it feels immortal but it suffers from separation.

From 7 to 9, there follows a realistic phase with understanding of the irreversibility of the phenomenon. It is reflected in concrete representations (corpse, graveyard, awareness of the cycle of life from birth to death).

Between 9 and 13 comes the phase of existential angst. Death is a misfortune, it is irreversible, it is the final disappearance of the person from everyday life.

Regardless of age, it is important to talk with the child about death and about the deceased by evoking memories.

A child sometimes acts as if the loss of a loved one has not affected it, as a form of protection. That is why it is important - as with adults - to recognize the sadness phase that is characterized by crying. If this phase does not appear, take care that the child’s grief is not blocked and that it does not retreat into solitude.

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It makes sense to suggest that the child attends the funeral service, and goes to the cemetery…

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Last update : 01/02/2017