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How do 6- to 9-year-olds understand death and dying?

ANSWER

They associate death with old age. They may not understand that they or a sibling could die.

They know more about how the body works, so they may have specific questions about how someone dies. A sibling may think that a bruise on his own body indicates the same illness a brother or sister had.

They may associate death with frightening images from cartoons, such as ghosts and spirits.

From: Talking to Children about Death WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Kreicbergs, U. , Sept. 16, 2004. New England Journal of Medicine

Helene Morgan, LCSW, Comfort and Palliative Care Team, Los Angeles Children's Hospital.

Arden O'Donnell, LCSW, Pain and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, Boston.

Megan McCabe, MD, Director, Pediatric Palliative Care Fellowship, Yale School of Medicine.

Andres Martin, MD, Director, Children's Psychiatric In-Patient Service, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

Kendra Frederick, CCLS, Certified Child Life Specialist, Pediatric Oncology Unit, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on January 9, 2018

SOURCES:

Kreicbergs, U. , Sept. 16, 2004. New England Journal of Medicine

Helene Morgan, LCSW, Comfort and Palliative Care Team, Los Angeles Children's Hospital.

Arden O'Donnell, LCSW, Pain and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, Boston.

Megan McCabe, MD, Director, Pediatric Palliative Care Fellowship, Yale School of Medicine.

Andres Martin, MD, Director, Children's Psychiatric In-Patient Service, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

Kendra Frederick, CCLS, Certified Child Life Specialist, Pediatric Oncology Unit, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on January 9, 2018

NEXT QUESTION:

What are tips to help a 6- to 9-year-old sibling cope with their feelings about a sick or dying child?

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