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How Do Responses Vary With Age?

Under the age 5 years, children see death as temporary. Their primary response may be feelings of abandonment, fear and insecurity. They may express these feelings by asking repeated questions about the missing person. They may be angry with the dead person for leaving them, or at a surviving parent for being unable to respond to them. Other responses may include bed wetting, clinging, having tantrums, being aggressive, withdrawing, becoming attached to something belonging to the dead person or becoming attached to another person of the same sex as the person who has died.
From 5 to 8 years of age, children very often associate death with anger and aggression. They tend to fantasise about death and ask many questions about it. Frequently, adults find the questions inappropriate or upsetting. Children in this age group are unable to understand or deal with their feelings on their own.

From 8 to 9 years of age, Children usually respond to the death of someone close to them by crying, by denying what has happened, by becoming aggressive, hostile or apathetic. They will want to know what has happened to the dead person and will ask questions to satisfy their curiosity. The understandings of death in this age group is usually quite realistic.

Signs Of Possible Difficulties

There are several signs which may indicate that a child or teenager is having difficulty working through their grief. Such signs may include behaving as if nothing has happened, serious school problems, phobias, suicide threats, panic attacks, physical or verbal aggression, drug abuse, delinquency, withdrawal from (or difficulties in getting on with), the family. These signs should not be ignored.

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Paul Shoobridge

Low Cost Funeral Services Exeter

183a, Pinhoe Road

Polsloe Bridge, 

Exeter. 01392 409 000
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