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Grief And Loss Essay

1285 words - 6 pages

Anjana Khadka Student ID No: S00133749
Discuss how developmental factors are important in the way a 5 year old child conceptualizes and responds to loss.
Introduction
Almost every person in the world, at one time or another, experiences events that can be considered major losses (Harvey and Weber 1998). Loss weather personal, material, or symbolic will affect us all, children too can face different levels and types of losses (Hooyman and Kramer, 2006; Viorist, 1986) cited in The Person Health and Wellbeing,(1st ed.,pp.211). There is a misconception in our society that children cannot understand or have little knowledge about death. But children of various ages and stages understand death ...view middle of the document...

They represent their world with words, symbol, pictures, drawings, and imaginative play activities. Magical thinking is common for a 5 years old child; they think that death is caused by their thoughts and feelings, anger wishes. For example, boy thinks that he had caused his brother’s death; a few days before the accident, the boy and his brother had a fight and the 5-year-old, in a moment of anger, wished that something bad would happen to his brother. (TRAUMA AND LOSS: Research and Interventions, Volume 3, Number 1, 2003, Cathy A. Malchiodi)
A child at this stage does not have comprehensive knowledge about, finality, irreversibility, thinks that, Universality and biological casualty of death. (Brent et al., 1996; Hoffman and Strauss, 1985: Kenyon, 2001, The Person Health and Well Being, 1st ed., pp 271,). A child
Anjana Khadka Student ID No: S00133749
Believes deceased person is gone away temporarily and will return after some time. A child in the preoperational stage of cognitive development even believes that death can be avoided through magic, doctors, food or soup,etc.
There are some arguments on whether a child has ability to mourn or not. Bowlby (1960) believe that, some children have capability and enough maturity to understand death. In contrast, it can be argued that because young children do not understand the finality or significance of death, mourning is not truly occurring, but may instead be called “grief reactions” (Webb, 2001).

Reaction to loss
Children grieve different to the adult, because they are at the developmental process. They generally have difficulty grasping that death is not reversible and may irritate grieving adults by repeatedly asking about dead relatives or pets. The pain and emotion involved in death can be really frightening for a 5 year old child, since child at this age is very vulnerable. Since, child at this stage is egocentric magical thinking, and blame themselves for the cause of death, so they are afraid to express their real feelings. So, it is important to assure children at this stage that they are not responsible for the cause. (Osterwies, Solomon, and Green, 1984; Leibeman et al., 2003, The Death of a Parent: Healing Children’s Grief, September 3rd, 2009, Beth Patterson, MA, LPC)
As from above, we know that a 5 year child do not seem to understand the death fully and are likely to ask again and again about it. They may react death with irritability, may be regression and clinging behavior and a return to earlier modes of functioning, e.g. soiling. The child may become aggressive, naughty and wild and at the same time show heightened attachment to adults and seek for caregiver. He or she may also idealize the deceased and have fantasies of reunion. (Parents Trauma Research Centre, Myers, D. (1986) Psychology, New York, Worth Publishers)
Helping the bereaved children
To help a bereaved 5 year old child, it is very important to know that every children is different, so...

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