Children are always exposed to death and illness at some point in their lives because it is a natural part of life. Even the youngest children, who have no concept of death, respond to bereaved parents. Children’s previous bereavement experiences, age, emotional development, and even their environment all influence their perception of death. At different stages of development, children have different perceptions of death’s inevitability (healthy children.org, 2017). The manner in which bereavement is discussed is determined by the child’s level of understanding of death concepts. The fact that children do not have an understanding of the irreversibility, finality, causality, and inevitability of mortality is what affects their ability to cope with the feelings. For the infants, death as no real meaning, nonetheless, they react to the parents’ painful actions and the variation in their schedule. They always respond by crying because they cannot talk (UNIVERSITY of ROCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, 2017). When it comes to the toddler, death has a very slight connotation. They always get fretfulness from the feelings of those around them. When they realize that the parents or the loved ones are poignant or remorseful, they sense their emotions and get upset. They don’t even understand the correlation that exists between death and life and for that case mortality is not an everlasting situation.
The kids of the age of preschool can start to comprehend that the parents fear bereavement. At such a stage, they can view death as something that is temporary and is reversible. They have no awareness that the dead don’t eat or even breathe. When it comes to the school-age children, they always begin to understand death as something inevitable and permanent, even though there may be the personification of it as a ghost or even an angel. They always get inquisitive regarding the substantial procedure of mortality and what transpires after it has taken place. Furthermore, they might be afraid of their death because of its uncertainty of the aftermath (UNIVERSITY of ROCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, 2017).
The previous knowledge together with the emotional development is what influences much the adolescent’s perception of death just as with individuals of all ages. Most of them have the concept of death as inevitable and something permanent. Just like the adults, the adolescents may like their religious and cultural customs respected. Once they get the knowledge of death, they may feel threatened about their death and can even refrain from talking to their parents. They can also get angry, scared, and the feeling of being lonely in their struggle with accepting the truth (healthy children.org, 2017).
Healthy children.org. (2017). How Children Understand Death & What You Should Say – HealthyChildren.org. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/How-Children-Understand-Death-What-You-Should-Say.aspx
UNIVERSITY of ROCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER. (2017). A Child’s Concept of Death – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=90&ContentID=P03044