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Young Child's Understanding of Death
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Q:   My eleven year old son is experiencing problems in school.  They seem to be related to the death of his father......which was almost 5 years ago.  He has gone from a straight A student in gifted classes to barely passing.  My husband and my son were inseparable, and my son grieved over his death deeply,  but seemed to go through all of the phases of grief with the support of family and the help of counseling.  Now, I find him withdrawn and close to antisocial outside of his home environment.  Is this a normal occurrance?  I have him in counseling again.  What more can I do to help him?

A:  Your son is both normal and in need of help.  One of the aspects of grief which is not well known is that grief repeats itself.  One must re-grieve one's losses at each new stage of life.  For adults this may happen at a marriage, at the loss of another significant person, at moving to a new place.  With children this happens as they enter a new
stage of development.  Your son is nearing or entering puberty. The loss of his father takes on new aspects, and he must come to terms with the loss all over again.

Getting counselling for him is excellent.  That will also enable you to learn more of what is troubling him.  Kids with loss often fall on their faces when they turn a new corner.  When their parents don't abandon them to this new form of loss, the kids usually work it through.  Your understanding of what may be underlying your son's behavior is a
wonderful gift to him.  Keep on being there for him and have faith in the inner child you know is there.

Your son may wish to join our support group, kids-to-kids.  There kids support each other and that seems to be of great help to many of them. 

You might wish to browse our bookstore.  Here are some titles:  
Helping Children Cope with Death
Helping Children Cope With Loss
And there is an excellent musical tape, Together We Can Heal

We are adding new titles to our bookstore daily, so if you check back from time to time, there should be new titles to consider.

Don't hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further help. 

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Q:   My six year old son's great grandfather died two days ago after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease.  I'm concerned about how to answer my son's questions regarding what happened to his Papa, especially questions regarding burial, etc...  as the body will be cremated and the ashed scattered at sea.  I'm afraid that in improper explanation could cause damage to my son.  I will certainly appreciate any advice you can
give me.

A:   I'm so sorry to learn of your son's loss, and I'm glad you wrote.  It just so happens that today I visited the site of one of my bereavement professional colleagues, Alan Wolfelt, and found he had posted an item about this very topic.  It is an explanation that will certainly help both you and your son, and I cannot do more than to point you to it:  The Mourners Corner .   Please don't hesitate to write back if we can be of any further help.

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