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Discussing Death with Children

Factors that Affect Grieving

Factors that affect grieving in children include:

  • Age of the person who died and the age of the survivor.
  • How and when the death occurred - expected or unexpected, violent or natural.
  • Relationship between the survivor and the person who died.
  • Survivor's support system.
  • Emotional and mental health of an individual griever.
  • Compounding losses; moving to a new house, changing schools, financial difficulties.
  • Events surrounding the death. For example, was the child included and informed through the entire process or sent to a relative's house for "protection?"
  • Legal issues: including courtroom hearings, lawsuits, insurance settlements, disputes, etc.
  • How the family system grieves greatly affects the child's grief.

Text provided by:
Caring Connections
A Hope and Comfort in Grief Program
University of Utah Health Sciences Center
Caring Connections is sponsored in part by: The Ben B. and Iris M. Margolis Foundation.

Related Resources

Letting Children Share in Grief »
New York Times article about the changing attitudes toward grief and children.

Explaining Death in a Child’s Terms »
Advice on how to be honest with children and encourage questions.