Children can become fascinated with the concept of death at a young age. Many children are influenced by magical thinking and cannot conceptualize the permanence of death. Other children come into contact with death usually with the loss of a small pet such as a fish or hamster.
The article, “Why Do 4-Year-Olds Love Talking About Death?” by Jessica Grose looks at this curious interest. The article states,
“When our older daughter was 4, it seemed like she was asking us about death constantly. These questions were apropos of nothing; we hadn’t had a death in the family or lost a pet. What was jarring was her matter-of-fact tone.”
The improper handling of children grief leads to many future problems for the child. Well intentioned adults many times offer the wrong advice or entirely ignore the issue at hand. Alan Wolfelt offers these grief rights to children in their grieving.
1. The right to have my own unique feeling about death.
2. The right to talk about the death when I feel comfortable to do so
3. The right to express grief how I feel
4. The right to ask and receive help during grief from adults
5. During grief, the right to get upset about normal and everyday problems
6. The right to have grief outbursts
7. The right to use my beliefs about God to help me through my grief
8. The right to examine why my loved one died
9. The right to think about and discuss the memories of the loved one lost
10. The right to move forward and feel my grief over and over until I heal
These rights above help adults understand the proper care for a grieving child. A child deserves not to be forgotten during grief. They deserve a certain respect that correlates with their age in their understanding of grief and how it affects them.
If you are interested in child and adolescent grief, please review the program.
(Information for this article is from “Companioning the Grieving Child” by Alan Wolfelt, PhD)
Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C