Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 221–226 | Cite as

The Grieving Process in Children: Strategies for Understanding, Educating, and Reconciling Children's Perceptions of Death

  • Clarissa A. Willis


Just like adults, children of all ages need time and understanding in order to process the concept of death and dying. This process is much different for children than it is for adults. There are 4 components relative to children's understanding of death: (a) the irreversibility factor, (b) finality, (c) inevitability, and (d) causality. These 4 components relate directly to the developmental level of the child at the time the death occurs. Knowing how children's concept of death is constructed provides parents and caregivers important information and helps them respond more sensitively to what children might feel and experience. This article provides an overview of how children understand death, concrete strategies for talking to children about death, and suggestions for teachers about how to help children through grief and mourning.

child grief understanding death mourning stress 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clarissa A. Willis
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Excellence in Early ChildhoodEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson City

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