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Centerpointe Research

Death and Children

Stained glass windows in the Mausoleum of the ...

Stained glass windows in the Mausoleum of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California; originally created in the 1920s for Saint Vibiana Cathedral, Los Angeles Jesus and the children, detail: Child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Be very careful dealing with death and children.  From many hours of play and drawing therapy, I have found that children often get some strange ideas about bad things that they  have had to face that they have not faced before as very often their frame of reference is different from adults.

For example, when talking about a family member who had died, a child thought that at the funeral, they would see a body without a head.  He or she thought that since the soul had departed, the head would be missing.

Children often do not get the whole picture and/or do not think that death is permanent.  They often only get part of what they are told or they may interrupt it differently than an adult would.

Drawings by children who have faced the death of someone they know or who are sick or injured and are facing their own death often allow the therapist to determine what is going on in the child’s mind.  Drawings by terminally ill children often show that they are aware of their own coming passing.  Those with a spiritual bent often are reassured when a child demonstrates knowledge of an afterlife or heaven and possibly  of angels, God, Jesus, or a loved person or animal that has passed on before them.

It is best when helping these children that you determine what questions they have before giving them answers they are not yet ready for or wouldn’t understand or don’t need.  It is best to fit explanations to the child’s point of view, not the adult’s.

 

 

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