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Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age The child is grown, and puts away childish things. Childhood is the kingdom where nobody.

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Presentation on theme: "Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age The child is grown, and puts away childish things. Childhood is the kingdom where nobody."— Presentation transcript:

1 Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age The child is grown, and puts away childish things. Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies. Nobody that matters, that is. Distant relatives of course Die, whom one never has seen or has seen for an hour, And they gave one candy in a pink-and-green stripéd bag, or a jack-knife, And went away, and cannot really be said to have lived at all. And cats die. They lie on the floor and lash their tails, And their reticent fur is suddenly all in motion With fleas that one never knew were there, Polished and brown, knowing all there is to know, Trekking off into the living world. You fetch a shoe-box, but it's much too small, because she won't curl up now: So you find a bigger box, and bury her in the yard, and weep. But you do not wake up a month from then, two months A year from then, two years, in the middle of the night And weep, with your knuckles in your mouth, and say Oh, God! Oh, God! Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters, —mothers and fathers don't die. 4/10/20151

2 2 6/9/08 4/10/2015 Illene Noppe Cupit, PhD Professor of Human Development, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay President-Elect of the Association for Death Education and Counseling Presentation to the CASA Volunteer Training Workshop November 15, 2011 E-Mail:

3 Overview  Early childhood experiences with death.  Two conceptual umbrellas.  Early research.  What goes into a mature concept of death?  Children and dying.  Children and grief. 34/10/2015

4  Briefly write down your earliest significant childhood death experience: ◦ How old were you? ◦ Who or what died? ◦ What did you feel? ◦ How were you treated? ◦ What else can you remember about the event? 44/10/2015

5  Dickinson, G. E. (1992). First childhood death experiences. Omega, 25, 169-182.  Content analysis of 440 college students from 1979 – 1991. (Mean age = 23.79 years)  Average age of first death experience = 7.95 years. Results: Most frequent death was of a relative-57%, but 28% were of a pet.  Responses: Confusion and fear most common.  Explanations: went to heaven; lots of euphemisms  Lots of essays mentioned crying; playing funeral, the fun of family reunion. 54/10/2015

6 Westernized myths:  Young children do not think about death.  Children become horribly anxious when death is discussed.  Children’s death concepts parallel those of adults.  Children should not go to a funeral. 64/10/2015

7  Early parental death creates long-lasting personality problems.  All children arrive at an understanding of death at about the same age.  Children rarely grieve, and when they do, it doesn’t last a long time: An active playing child is not a grieving child.  Adults should have all the answers, especially if they are teachers or clergy. 74/10/2015

8  Two conceptual models that frequently are used to explain the development of death concepts: ◦ Erikson’s psychosocial model. Evolved into a developmental task approach. ◦ Piaget’s stage approach. 84/10/2015

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10  Nagy (1948) “Auntie Death”:  Studied 348 children, 3 - 10 yrs. from Budapest, Hungary.  Found three developmental stages. 104/10/2015

11  Stage 1: ◦ Death is a state of restricted functioning. ◦ The dead can come back to life. ◦ Fear of separation. ◦ Death is punishment.  Stage 2: ◦ Death is personified. ◦ Death is punishment. ◦ Death comes to all, but can be outsmarted 114/10/2015

12 12 "I'm quarter gone...I'm half gone...I'm three- quarters gone...I'm all gone!"

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14  Stage 3: A mature concept… 4/10/201514

15  What is a mature concept? Shared by adults in culture.  Universality ◦ all inclusiveness, inevitability, unpredictability  Irreversibility  Nonfunctionality  Causality ◦ (magical thinking gives way torealistic thinking).  Noncorporeal continuation (nonempirical beliefs) 154/10/2015

16  Primary research is artwork.  DeSpelder & Stricklund (1978) asked: “How do people die?”  What do children report?….. 164/10/2015

17 * Old age. * A sick person dying at home in their sleep. * Dying from cancer. * Dying from an explosion from lighting a gas stove or oven. * Dying from a snake or spider’s bite. * Automobile accident. * Dying in a hospital from surgery or procedure. 174/10/2015

18 International & cross-national study of young children’s (elementary school) perceptions of death and dying. Children from: ◦ South Central L.A. ◦ Detroit MI ◦ Bonn Germany ◦ Santa Cruz, CA  Asked to draw a picture that was blind reviewed by certified art therapist. 184/10/2015

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26 L.A. (violent death) Bonn (natural death) Detroit (Inner City) (violent death) Santa Cruz (“environ- mental death”) Drive by shootings, handguns, gang deaths, homicides. Deaths at home & in hospitals, natural illnesses, disease, sickness. Drug overdoses, house fires, drownings, some homicides. Drownings, fatal falls from cliffs, automobile accidents, water accidents. 264/10/2015

27  Barrett & DeSpelder (1997) ◦ Used artwork to study death attitudes in children ◦ Children’s understandings and perceptions of death influenced by:  Experience  Environment  A word of advice: ◦ Don’t confuse age with stages! ◦ Avoid oversimplifying our view of children. 274/10/2015

28  Needs can mesh with Eriksonian stages.  What are the needs of dying children? ◦ Trust ◦ Minimal separation ◦ Sense of belonging ◦ Normalization ◦ Opportunities for expression ◦ Confirmation as a person of value ◦ Assurance that they will not be forgotten. 284/10/2015

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30  Grief tied to developmental level.  Childhood grief is unique to the child’s capacities.  Grief tied to family system.  Children who are grieving may show: ◦ Regressive behaviors. ◦ Acting out and other behaviors that may mimic ADHD ◦ Physical complaints ◦ “Grief bursts” ◦ Grief responses only when they feel safe to do so. ◦ Fear of abandonment. ◦ Blaming ◦ Lower self-esteem ◦ Social withdrawal, anxiety  Support system should encourage children to accomplish their developmental tasks. Resilient children experience positive parenting as they cope with their loss. 304/10/2015

31 31  125 children, ages 6 – 17 interviewed over a two year period who experienced the death of a parent.  Researchers found that children maintained relationships with their dead parents rather than letting go.  Behaviors, memories and feelings brought them closer to their deceased parents. 4/10/2015

32 32  Strategies of connection: ◦ Locating the deceased: Most children say “heaven.” 14-year-old Catholic boy whose father died: “I want my father to see me perform. If I said a dead person can’t see then I would not be able to have my wish that he see what I am doing. I believe that the dead see, hear, move. Don’t ask me how. I just believe it. Heaven is a mysterious place. My father is with all the other relatives that died.” 4/10/2015

33 33 ◦ Experiencing the deceased: Dead parents were watching their children: “I sometimes think he is watching me. It scares me because sometimes he might see me do something he wouldn’t like. Like, it’s weird…it’s not scary…like if you’re doing something, like if someone’s watching you, you don’t do it, if it’s bad. You don’t do it if someone’s watching.” ◦ Dreams: “I dreamed he met me on the way home from school and that he hugged me. When I woke up I felt so sad that I won’t have that anymore.” 4/10/2015

34 34 ◦ Reaching out to the deceased (e.g., visit the cemetery, speaking to the deceased): “In my mind, I talk to him. I tell him what I did today, about the fish I caught and that I did real good.” 4/10/2015

35 35 ◦ Waking Memories and Thoughts: Most children remembered fairly literal and concrete things about their dead parents. “I think about the stupid things we did together.” Many children think of their current relationship with the deceased: “I keep my room nice and tidy now, that’s the way he had everything. Before I would just throw stuff down. Now every morning I pick everything up. I know it would please him.” 4/10/2015

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37 Approx. 1.8 million children from birth to 18 years old are sibling bereaved in the U.S. at an given time. 4/10/201537

38  The death of a sibling freezes the relationship as it existed at that moment. ◦ Wish they had been nicer or spent more time with sib. ◦ Some are left as only children.—”My parents have each other, but I have only me.” ◦ Sibs feel that their family and lives are forever altered—grieve for this lost family as well. ◦ May have difficulty accepting the idea that the death could not have been prevented. ◦ Check out 4/10/201538

39 ◦ Headaches, stomachaches, jumpiness, clingy and fearful when parents are not present. ◦ Sleep difficulties—may be night terrors if sib died violently. ◦ Attention deficits and difficulty concentrating—may affect schoolwork. ◦ May feel socially alienated—nobody understands them. ◦ Avoid becoming close to others because bad things will happen to them. ◦ Feel guilty about being alive when their sibling is dead. ◦ May feel they are dishonoring their deceased sib if they enjoy life. ◦ Experience regrief—anniversaries, dev milestones, hear favorite song of sib, if media reports about the death. 4/10/201539

40 1. The issues: Development of death concepts, experiential factors in death awareness, the bereavement of children, dying children. 2. Ways they are unlike adults: Concepts and grieving are not similar, do not have a road map in order to predict what happens next, little input. 3. Similar: Curious about death, desire honesty, need social support. 404/10/2015

41  Be honest. It is okay to say you don’t know the answer.  Take advantage of “teachable moments.”  Avoid euphemisms. Use precise terms.  Explain at child’s level of understanding.  Allow and accept children’s feelings—it is natural to cry. However, the manner in which feelings are expressed will often correspond to family and cultural norms. 414/10/2015

42  Express your feelings.  Reassure child that someone will be there for him or her.  Caregivers who work together in supporting the child experiencing loss and grief will be most effective.  In most cases, how well children deal with loss and grief will be influenced by the way that the adult or significant others in children’s lives are dealing with the loss and their grief. 424/10/2015

43  Children cannot tolerate long periods of sadness. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t love the person who died or are being disrespectful. (they can even have fun).  Look for changes in child’s behavior or patterns that might be signs that there are problems.  Respect the child’s own coping style and timetable.  Recognize magical thinking and try to dispel notions that the child caused the death.  Have faith in the resiliency of the child. 434/10/2015

44 Resources in Our Community  Center for Grieving Children  Unity Hospice Other Sources  Association for Death Education and Counseling  Sesame Street Workshop on Grief  Open to Hope Foundation 4/10/201544

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