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A Child's Concept of Death

Every child, at any age, has their own unique concept of death. Past experiences with death for the terminally ill child, as well as, his/her age, emotional development, and surroundings are what most influence a child's own concept of death. Cartoons, movies, television, video games, and even books are filled with images of death. The child with a terminal condition has, most likely, previously experienced death by loss of a family member, friend, or pet.

An adult's misconceptions and fear about death are often transferred to his/her children. Treating death as a part of life is difficult, but may help alleviate some of the fear and confusion associated with it. Dealing with death must be done within the cultural beliefs and mores of the family.

Developmental age is a broad term used to describe the maturity of thought process development. Children may be more or less mature in their thinking and processing information, than others, at a similar age. The following are children's concepts of death, according to common developmental ages:

It is important for parents to realize that children of all ages respond to death in a unique way. Children need support and, in particular, someone who will listen to their thoughts, and provide reassurance to alleviate their fears.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Care of the Terminally Ill Child


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