Helping Children Cope with Death

crash, and free expression of guilt should be encouraged. The child of this age is similar to that of four to six years olds as they also may fear that death is a punishment for improper behavior. They may fear that naughty behavior has brought about the death of a loved one, and that they are likely to be punished for it. They may also believe that they or another loved one will be the next to die. Because the child simply cannot understand death in the intellectual level of adults, it is difficult to rid themselves of feelings of anger, fear and guilt. It is not unusual for a child in this age range to feel some shame regarding the death of a loved one. They may feel different from other children their age and may resist or become angry with questions that relate to the death such as, “What do your parents do for a living?” if a parent has died, or “How many brothers and sisters do you have?” if a sibling has died. Shame and confusion move to the forefront of their grief. At this age, children are not only sensitive to their own feelings, but also to the feelings of others. As a result, they understand what the loss may mean to others. In short, they are able to empathize. The child in the upper end of this range not only needs support and comfort, but can also be a source of support and comfort to others. Opportunities to be helpful to others during the crisis can actually help the child deal

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