Grief by Age

Everyone will experience death at some point during their life. While adulthood is the most common time for bereavement[1], many children and adolescents will experience death at some time as well. Each person is different in their psychological and emotional response to grief, and much of this is influenced by age. Because death is an unavoidable part of life, it is important for society to increase understanding of the different ways in which people may view and respond to death.

Bereavement During Adulthood

As mentioned earlier, bereavement most commonly happens during adulthood, and the frequency of loss increases with age. However, grief is different in adulthood because adults have a fully developed understanding of death and memories with the deceased. While sadness is an expected grief response, there are many other responses to grief that may be unexpected. For example, researchers have observed physical symptoms in bereaved adults in addition to changes in emotion, thought, and behaviors.  Unexpected responses to grief may also include “‘searching’ behaviors – including hallucinations, dreams in which the deceased is still alive, ‘seeing’ the deceased person in the street, and other illusions and misperceptions.”[2]

Often times, adults may experience dreams or hallucinations in which the deceased are still alive.

When the reality sets in that the deceased is not coming back, symptoms such as depression, anger, and anxiety more commonly begin to surface. Bereaved adults may have intense mood swings as well. Most often, however, adults immediately respond to grief with feelings of shock, numbness, or disbelief. These responses may cause the bereaved to appear to be accepting of their loss because they have not yet processed the reality of the death, much like children during early childhood. With time, however, these feelings of shock or numbness usually shift to feelings of sadness and separation.[4]

Adults may experience feelings of separation, extreme sadness, depression, and anxiety following bereavement.

Bereavement During Adolescence

One of the earliest and continued interests is the developmental progression in children’s concept of death.[6] Adolescents are in Piaget’s formal operational stage of development[7], meaning they have a full, adult understanding of death. However, they may not deal with their grief in the same way. It is known that most adolescents often feel as though “no one understands them”, but these feelings may be especially apparent during grieving. This may lead to intense emotional reactions and difficulty expressing their feelings. For this reason, adolescents may also exhibit high-risk behavior in dealing with grief as a way of challenging their own mortality or as an attempt to regain control[8]. On the other hand, adolescents may not express their emotions at all due to fear of being “weird” or “different” from their peers, much like in late childhood and preadolescence. Socially, adolescents may have greater reliance on their peers or they may isolate themselves. Regardless, emotional support is extremely important in helping adolescents deal with death, as with any age group. However, it is especially important for adults to allow adolescents to remain independent during times of grief, at least to some degree.

Bereavement During Late Childhood and Preadolescence

Amsler uses Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development in understanding how a child’s view of death changes as they develop, most especially in late childhood and preadolescence. Children in late childhood are in Piaget’s concrete operational stage of development, meaning they will begin to gain a deeper understanding of death and think more logically about this process.[9] That being said, children’s understanding of death at this stage is more like an adult’s understanding of death – they understand that death is permanent, but they also attempt to understand both the physical and emotional processes of death. Similar to children in middle childhood, children in late childhood and preadolescents may appear withdrawn and attempt to conceal their feelings, but on a much larger scale. It is suggested that children in this stage may attempt to hide their feelings so as not to appear “weird” or “different” compared to other children their age. It has also been suggested that children in this stage act in this way because sadness is seen as a sign of weakness (especially in boys.)[10] Children in this stage are more likely to express their grief through anger, irritability, and moodiness which can lead to isolation.

Bereavement During Middle Childhood

Unlike during early childhood, children in middle childhood have the understanding that death is permanent. During middle childhood, children have a greater understanding that everything that happens in their environment does not revolve around them. Because of this, a child in this stage may have heightened fears about death and may become increasingly concerned about the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones. Bereaved children at this age may also experience anxiety and depressive symptoms following the loss of a loved one. As mentioned earlier, they may also express anger and sadness that may lead to aggressive behavior and difficulty in school. They may also appear to be withdrawn in an attempt to conceal their feelings (these specific behaviors may be especially apparent in young boys at this age.) Middle-aged children can even regress to an earlier developmental stage as a result of their grief. However, children in middle and late childhood tend to have more coping strategies than children in early childhood. For example, children in this stage may imagine what they would have done to prevent death from happening as a way of coping and attempting to gain control over the situation.[11]

Bereavement during childhood may cause children to have difficulty in school with their peers and schoolwork.

Bereavement During Early Childhood

In early childhood, children view death as temporary and reversible. Children at this age may believe that certain thoughts or feelings can lead to death, which may cause them to feel responsible for the death of a loved one and blame themselves. This is because children at this age believe that everything that happens in their environment revolves around their own thoughts and actions. Sometimes it may seem as though there is an absence of grief in a bereaved child at this age. However, this doesn’t mean that they are unaffected by the death; it may indicate their inability to process the reality of the death at the time. In addition, children who have experienced death at this age may fear that other loved ones will leave them or they may become attached to individuals who remind them of the deceased in some way.

Everyone is different in their own response to death, and much of this is influenced by age – children respond to grief in different ways than adults, and vice versa. However, age is not the only factor that influences the ways in which people respond to death; culture also plays a huge part in the response to grief – in children especially.

While differences in grieving are present among children and adults, the processes differ further when culture is taken into account. A culture with a stark difference to the process of grieving – in comparison to American culture – is the Hispanic culture. The Hispanic element of machismo is used to describe the masculine pride in maintaining self-control, stoicism, and strength that men are expected to adhere to in every situation, including loss of a loved one[13].

These cultural attitudes and beliefs can result in children not receiving the appropriate information or support they need because the adults in their lives are preoccupied in dealing with their own emotions. Without parental or adult support, Hispanic children are more likely to have permanent negative effects, a longer grieving process, and emotional instability[14]. As a result, childhood traumatic grief may be present in more children than previously thought. Hispanic children also have difficulty expressing their anger, sadness, confusion, and other emotions tied to bereavement due to cultural norms[15].They may believe they are helping the family by not showing their emotions, also known as displaying machismo when they are in pain, and not wanting to be a burden to the family.

Painted on the front of a wall, this mural translates to: “Machismo (male chauvinism) puts women and men at risk. You can change it!”

Unaddressed grieving can manifest in many ways, such as acting out behaviors (e.g., bullying, aggression, violence toward self and others), anxiety, eating disorders, isolation, learning problems, perfectionism, and suicidal ideation and attempts[16]. In addition to expressing grief physically and emotionally, it is more culturally acceptable for Hispanics to seek help for somatic symptoms like headaches, intestinal disorders, nervousness, and other physical manifestations of grief than it is to seek mental health care[17]. Even though children are not involved in the bereavement process with adults, they are usually included in all the funeral rites because honoring the person is important for the next generation, who will then have some responsibility in caring for the dead by visiting their grave each year[18].

     An important aspect of most Hispanic families is a cultural hierarchy in which men are the head of the household, women come second to men, and children – as the youngest – are at the bottom of the hierarchy[19]. Although Hispanic families make decisions together, following the family hierarchy is extremely important in most households. As a result of this family hierarchy, parents do not often discuss taboo subjects, such as death, with their children until it becomes necessary[20]. This aspect of taboo subjects is similar to the Japanese culture, where open discussion of death, particularly among children, remains one of the greatest Japanese societal taboos; therefore, little is known about Japanese children’s perceptions of death[21]. In many Hispanic cultures, death becomes a community event in which the family turns to others in the extended for help. However, research supports the concept that many Hispanics, both children and adults, are not open with their emotions, preferring not to express them outside the family[22]. Families in the Hispanic community have a closer personal space within their families than Westernized culture tends to have[23]. For example, a Hispanic child may seek out and welcome a warm, loving embrace when feeling distraught or unhappy. Therefore, Hispanics, including children, express their grief physically as much or more than emotionally[24].

Built into several Hispanic cultures is maintaining some sort of level of connectivity to loved ones who have passed away. Rituals and practices, both religious and iconic, include those that create a bond with the dead in order to not lose connection after death[25]. For example, a prominent festivity in Mexican culture, Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is an annual celebration to honor lost loved ones, also exposing children to the idea of death and the continuation of the spirit in a non-morbid way[26].

A celebration of the Day of the Dead in the streets of Mexico City.

Altares (alters) of loved ones for the Day of the Dead.

This occurs starting on November first, when souls of deceased children are return to the living world, followed by the return of the souls of adults on November second[27]. It is a time when Mexicans celebrate the lives of lost loved ones and seeing death in a more positive light: as a transition to a higher place where they may join their loved ones sometime in the future. The underlying theme of these festivals is not to fear death, but accept it as part of life, making it a viable cultural coping strategy for children and adults[28]. This way of celebrating is meant to be joyful and a way to welcome the dead back into the world of the living for a day, honor them, and to show people that death is not to be feared. This differs greatly from the Westernized or American cultural views of death, where American children grow up in a culture that avoids grief and denies the inevitability of death[29]. With the many cultural setbacks children and adults go through that hinder their grieving process, Dia de los Muertos aids in that process even just for a couple of days.

     Dia de los Muertos helps parents in the Hispanic culture talk to their children about taboo subjects regarding death and furthermore gather together in accepting the concept of death rather than fearing it.  The ways in which children are either welcomed or excluded from the grieving process determines the healthiness and effectiveness of a child’s grief. More importantly, the ways in which parents decide to explain the concept of death to children can be explained and attributed to a series of ethical principles that guides society.

In the relationship that parents have with their children’s grief, most parents subconsciously utilize the principle of deontology to explain grief and death. Most western-cultured parents believe in the common practice of hiding grief and death from children[30]. As mentioned previously, the Hispanic concept of machismo creates a stoic and private grieving atmosphere that hides the excruciating pain associated with losing a loved one. The belief is that this practice will protect children from the pain of grief, and will allow the most optimal outcome with regards to the psychology of the child – when in reality it causes negative effect for the child. This behavior can be named deontological because it follows the general outstanding social law that children should be safeguarded from death[31]. The social law stems from adults’ general feeling that it is one’s moral duty to shield children from the concept of death[32]. On the contrary, studies actually show that excluding children from the grief process is detrimental to their understanding of death and their future mental health.[33]

Studies have shown that being specific, honest and concrete in descriptions of death towards children is the most optimal way to address death to children.[34] Specifically, using euphemisms such as ‘gone to sleep,’ ‘passed away,’ and ‘left us’ confuse children.[35] These euphemisms leave hope for the children to believe that the person will return[36], which confuses children’s concept of finality with death (an already difficult concept to grasp). Instead, using concrete language such as ‘death and dying’ not only directly addresses the confusing concepts of death but also allows children to feel comfortable talking about it[37]. The subject becomes less taboo and integrates a healthy perception of death – rather than a scary formidable one[38].

A mother consoling her child.

The honest inclusion of children into the grieving process can be regarded as a consequentialism because the outcome of action creates a positive outcome for the children in the long run even though it may create temporary pain. In regards to grief, those acting with consequentialism seem to have the most success in overcoming and conquering it.[39]

One of the most detrimental things that a parent can do for a child’s grief is to disclude them in the process of grieving, the extreme being that the child is sent away from the site of communal grieving. Sending a child away to live with relatives while the adults deal with the grief and the funeral rites of the loved one will only create a rift between the child and his/her parents[40]. The child, depending on the age and maturing level, will most likely pick up on the fact that something is wrong while simultaneously being told that everything is okay by his trusted adults[41]. This conflicting views cause a distrust of adults during a time where an adult guidance through grief is vital.

The common myth that children do not grieve, or that their grief is insignificant in comparison, may be easier to believe than for parents to explain and teach their children healthy forms of grieving. Furthermore, as parents grieve routines, attitudes, and attention are suddenly altered which can result in derangement for children. A study showed that when the usual ‘limits and the routines of household, school and play were maintained’ the child coped better with the loss of an important person[42]. This is in drastic comparison to when the limits of the household were relaxed, the children’s anxiety and behavioral response to grief was significant in proportion to the difference in their routine[43]. From this study, in regards to parents, the belief that children do not mourn and that brushing aside parental responsibilities in response to coping with grief actually creates more behavioral problems for the children of the household[44]. For parents, the ethical principle of altruism should be implicated in order to account for the responsibility of not only their own grief, but also their child’s grief.

While parents must account for the well-being of others and therefore should utilize altruism when grieving, adults who can afford the luxury can ethically defend their actions through egoism – more specifically, rational egoism. In adults, a developed maturity allows for a full understanding of death which can lead to a morbid attitude and intense grief when a loved one dies. In an interview discussing his group grief counseling, Reverend Glasgow conceptualizes how people can get into a state of ‘paranoia’ meaning that they catastrophize over grief in that they feel an intense and increasing pain in the first 6-8 months of grieving[45]. For a person who experiences this type of grief, seeking help can be difficult mainly because of the outlook that their grief is no more than the bereavement of the person next to them. This detrimental outlook can be contrasted with the ethical approach of rational egoism – meaning that an action is rational if it maximizes one’s self-interest is morally right. In this sense, rational egoism can be used to support decisions such as time off from work, and more importantly cognitive behavioral therapy to aid the process of grieving and allow for the return to a healthy mental state[46].

The psychology of grieving varies among age groups. A child’s lack of understanding of the finality of death can be very confusing and they might need the support of the adults around them to learn how to grieve in a healthy way. Once the child matures into adulthood, their grieving process is determined on how they were taught to grieve as a child. Grief looks different along latitudes by age and along longitude across cultures. Furthermore, grieving behaviors can be justified by different ethical approaches depending on the stage of life one is in. A consideration of the scientific, cultural, and ethical perspective creates a greater understanding of the psychology of grief across different age groups.

 

 

 

Lisette Bahena, Ellen Hayes, Anika Allen

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Osterweis, Marian, Fredric Solomon, and Morris Green. “Bereavement During Childhood and Adolescence.” Bereavement: Reactions, Consequences, and Care. January 01, 1984. Accessed March 28, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217849/.

[2] Ibid.

[3]“Visitation Dreams.” J.M. DeBord Dream Interpretation. March 27, 2018. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://dreams123.net/dream-interpretation-contact-with-a-deceased-parent-is-it-real/.

[4] Osterweis, Solomon, and Green, “Bereavement During Childhood and Adolescence.”

[5] McKinley. “There Is Nothing You Can Say to Heal Someone Else’s Grief.” The Mighty. April 08, 2019. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://themighty.com/2016/12/what-to-say-to-someone-whos-grieving/.

[6] Robert S Pynoos MD, MPH (1992) Grief and Trauma in Children and Adolescents,Bereavement Care, 11:1, 2-10, DOI: 10.1080/02682629208657280

[7]Amsler, Kyle. “Conceptualizations of Death in Middle Childhood and Adolescence.” Child Life Resources. April 29, 2015. Accessed March 28, 2019. http://www.childliferesources.com/conceptualizations-death-middle-childhood-adolescence/.

[8] Himebauch, Adam, M.D., Robert M. Arnold, M.D., and Carol May, R.N. “Grief in Children and Developmental Concepts of Death #138.” Journal of Palliative Medicine 11, no. 2 (2008): 242-44. doi:10.1089/jpm.2008.9973.

[9] Amsler, Kyle. “Conceptualizations of Death in Middle Childhood and Adolescence.”

[10] “Children’s Developmental Stages Concepts of Death and Responses.” Children’s Responses to Grief. Accessed March 28, 2019. https://www.vitas.com/family-and-caregiver-support/grief-and-bereavement/children-and-grief/childrens-developmental-stages-concepts-of-death-and-responses.

[11] “Children’s Developmental Stages Concepts of Death and Responses.” Children’s Responses to Grief.

[12] “Is Your Child Acting Out?” Psychology Everywhere. September 06, 2017. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://psychologyeverywhere.com/article/is-your-child-acting-out.html.

[13] Arman, “A Grief Counseling Group Design for Hispanic Children,” 3.

[14] Arman, “A Grief Counseling Group Design for Hispanic Children,” 5.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Arman, “A Grief Counseling Group Design for Hispanic Children,” 6.

[17] Clarissa Gonzalez and Bell Hope. “Child-centered play therapy for Hispanic children with traumatic grief: Cultural implications for treatment outcomes.” International Journal of Play Therapy 25, no. 3 (2016): 149.

[18] Henry Fersko-Weiss. “The Hispanic Way of Death and Dying.” International End of Life Doula Association, accessed March 24, 2019, https://www.inelda.org/the-hispanic-way-of-death-and-dying/.

[19] John Arman, “A Grief Counseling Group Design for Hispanic Children,” American Counseling Association, 69, no. 1 (2014): 2.

[20] Arman, “A Grief Counseling Group Design for Hispanic Children,” 3.

[21] Miharu Sagara-Rosemeyer and Betty Davies, “The Integration of Religious Traditions in Japanese Children’s View of Death and Afterlife.” Death Studies 31, no. 3(2007): 223.

[22]Arman, “A Grief Counseling Group Design for Hispanic Children,” 6.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Fersko-Weiss. “The Hispanic Way.”

[26] Ibid.

[27] Fersko-Weiss. “The Hispanic Way.”.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Clarissa Willis. “The Grieving Process in Children: Strategies for Understanding, Educating, and Reconciling Children’s Perceptions of Death.” Early Childhood Education Journal 29, no. 4 (2002): 222.

[30] Ibid, 224.

[31] Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Ira Byock, On Death & Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy & Their Own Families(New York: Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, 2014), 6.

[32] Ibid, 4.

[33] Ibid, 4.

[34] Seccareccia, Dori, and Andrea Warnick. “When a Parent Is Dying -Helping Parents Explain

Death to Their Children.” Palliative Care Files 54 (2008).

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Ira Byock, On Death & Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy & Their Own Families(New York: Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, 2014), 6.

[39] T, Buddy. “How to Talk to Children About Family Substance Abuse.” Verywell Mind. Accessed

April 08, 2019. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-to-tell-children-about-a-parents-addiction-66633.

[40] Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Ira Byock, On Death & Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy & Their Own Families(New York: Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, 2014), 4,6.

[41] Ibid, 6.

[42] Catherine R. Andrews and Sylvia A. Marotta, “Spirituality and Coping Among Grieving Children: A Preliminary Study,” Counseling and Values 50, no. 1 (2005)

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Moules, Nancy. (2009). Following in Behind Grief: An Interview with the Reverend Bob

Glasgow on his Practice of Grief Work. Illness, Crisis, & Loss. 17. 51-69.

[46] Ibid.

 

Full Bibliography:

Amsler, Kyle. “Conceptualizations of Death in Middle Childhood and Adolescence.” Child Life Resources. April 29, 2015. Accessed March 28, 2019. http://www.childliferesources.com/conceptualizations-death-middle-childhood-adolescence/.

“Childrens Developmental Stages Concepts of Death and Responses.” Children’s Responses to Grief. Accessed March 28, 2019. https://www.vitas.com/family-and-caregiver-support/grief-and-bereavement/children-and-grief/childrens-developmental-stages-concepts-of-death-and-responses.

Himebauch, Adam, M.D., Robert M. Arnold, M.D., and Carol May, R.N. “Grief in Children and Developmental Concepts of Death #138.” Journal of Palliative Medicine 11, no. 2 (2008): 242-44. doi:10.1089/jpm.2008.9973.

“Is Your Child Acting Out?” Psychology Everywhere. September 06, 2017. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://psychologyeverywhere.com/article/is-your-child-acting-out.html.

McKinley. “There Is Nothing You Can Say to Heal Someone Else’s Grief.” The Mighty. April 08, 2019. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://themighty.com/2016/12/what-to-say-to-someone-whos-grieving/.

Osterweis, Marian, Fredric Solomon, and Morris Green. “Bereavement During Childhood and Adolescence.” Bereavement: Reactions, Consequences, and Care. January 01, 1984. Accessed March 28, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217849/.

Pynoos, Robert S. “Grief and Trauma in Children and Adolescents.” Bereavement Care 11, no. 1 (1992): 2-10. doi:10.1080/02682629208657280.

“Visitation Dreams.” J.M. DeBord Dream Interpretation. March 27, 2018. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://dreams123.net/dream-interpretation-contact-with-a-deceased-parent-is-it-real/.

Arman, John. “A Grief Counseling Group Design for Hispanic Children.” American Counseling Association 69, no. 1 (2014): 1-14.

Gonzalez, Clarissa, and Bell Hope. “Child-centered play therapy for Hispanic children with traumatic grief: Cultural implications for treatment outcomes.” International Journal of Play Therapy 25, no. 3 (2016): 146-153.

Fersko-Weiss, Henry. “The Hispanic Way of Death and Dying.” International End of Life Doula Association. https://www.inelda.org/the-hispanic-way-of-death-and-dying/ (accessed March 24, 2019).

Sagara-Rosemeyer, Miharu, and Betty Davies. “The Integration of Religious Traditions in Japanese Children’s View of Death and Afterlife.” Death Studies 31, no. 3 (2007): 223-247.

Willis, Clarissa. “The Grieving Process in Children: Strategies for Understanding, Educating, and Reconciling Children’s Perceptions of Death.” Early Childhood Education Journal 29, no. 4 (2002): 221-226.

Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth, and Ira Byock. On Death & Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy & Their Own Families. New York: Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, 2014.

Andrews, Catherine R., and Sylvia A. Marotta. “Spirituality and Coping Among Grieving Children: A Preliminary Study.Counseling and Values50, no. 1 (2005): 38-50.

Seccareccia, Dori, and Andrea Warnick. “When a Parent Is Dying -Helping Parents Explain Death to Their Children.” Palliative Care Files 54 (2008).

Moules, Nancy. (2009). Following in Behind Grief: An Interview with the Reverend Bob Glasgow on his Practice of Grief Work. Illness, Crisis, & Loss. 17. 51-69.

Pictures:

“Visitation Dreams.” J.M. DeBord Dream Interpretation. March 27, 2018. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://dreams123.net/dream-interpretation-contact-with-a-deceased-parent-is-it-real/.

McKinley. “There Is Nothing You Can Say to Heal Someone Else’s Grief.” The Mighty. April 08, 2019. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://themighty.com/2016/12/what-to-say-to-someone-whos-grieving/.

“Is Your Child Acting Out?” Psychology Everywhere. September 06, 2017. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://psychologyeverywhere.com/article/is-your-child-acting-out.html.

“Gran Celebración del Día de Muertos en la Ciudad de Mexico.” Oct. 27, 2018. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.marca.com/claro-mx/trending/2018/10/27/5bd4026822601d18598b464f.html

Juliano, Michael. “Day of the Dead 2013 at Hollywood Forever.” Sept. 25, 2018. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.timeout.com/los-angeles/things-to-do/amazing-things-happening-in-la-this-october

Menkedick, Sarah. “How to manage machismo on the road.” March 13, 2009. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://matadornetwork.com/bnt/hey-baby-how-to-manage-machismo-on-the-road/

T., Buddy. “Parental Alcoholism Affects Children.” 27 October 2018. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-to-tell-children-about-a-parents-addiction-66633

 

23 Comments

  1. I’d like to highlight the part in your post about the differences within Hispanic culture and the societal hierarchy relating to the discuss of death. How is it that the parents do not discuss “taboo subjects”, such as death, with their children yet they have a festival honoring the dead in the public eye? Are there grounds to believe that it is actually opposite: death is a community-thriving experience shared by all parts of the hierarchy?

  2. This post effectively establishes a timeline for stages of bereavement and explains them through psychology. Additionally, it explains a child’s perspective towards death in an unorthodox method, with the child interpreting the death as “temporary and reversible,” while also accounting for the fact that there may be a gap in understanding. The cultural aspect of grief is cross-examined against Western norms, it was interesting to see the way grief is symbolized in Hispanic culture through the Day of the Dead. Because Hispanic children are encouraged to speak on taboo subjects such as death, the presentation of statistical data showing the difference between American and Hispanic children’s ability to cope with grief would aid the argument being made.

  3. I like how this post talks about how even though we all experience grief, it looks and manifests differently depending on your age. My group wrote about different cultural grief practices between the US and Turkey so it was interesting to read about Hispanic culture and grief. Many cultures struggle to talk about death and grief, especially with children. The assumption is that it is too hard to talk about and deal with. But like this post says, when you don’t talk about grief, it can have consequences. One of the most important things while dealing with something as difficult as grief, is feeling understood. Being able to talk about your feelings and having someone who will listen is a really important part of healing. I think this post does a good job of highlighting the importance of discussing grief, especially with children, to help gain a better understanding of it.

  4. I enjoyed reading this post because I was unaware of how different age groups process death and found it beneficial to learn the differences and similarities. However, I do believe this post would have benefited from being arranged differently. In my opinion, it would have been more beneficial to start with discussing grief in earlier childhood and then end with grief in adulthood, instead of doing the vice versa. Additionally, while I found the portion of the post about grief in the Hispanic culture, I wish it would have been tied into the beginning of the post in some way. I was confused at first when I started reading that portion of the post– I thought I had started reading a new post or something. One question I do have after reading the post is, what do you think American culture would be like surrounding death if we had a similar celebration to Dia de Los Muertos? Do you think death would be embraced more and not as much of a taboo subject?

  5. It seems intuitive that individuals of different ages would react to and understand death in different ways, but reading about the psychological workings behind age-specific behaviors brings a whole new light to the topic of grief. The particularly striking aspect of the grief-process is the possibility that boys in late and middle childhood might alter their behaviors in order to fit in what they perceive as socially “normal” or “acceptable” for their gender. This would appear to be expected in a culture that attempts to emphasize gender behaviors, such as the Hispanic culture which places much importance on “machismo”. I found this post extremely interesting because of its discussion of the influence of culture, and how understanding a country’s culture is crucial to understanding the grieving process.

  6. This post was interesting and very telling of how different people cope with death. One of my favorite parts of this post was when you introduced how age was not the only thing that differed in a child’s response to death, but culture also played a role. I had no idea that in the Hispanic culture men were supposed to be seen as “strong” and “heroic” with the element of machismo. I do understand how the Western culture is very different in comparison to other cultures with how they deal with death, but I think that brings up a different conversation of why this is. Do you think that death is a topic that isn’t brought up or discussed because it is so medicalized?

  7. Kendall Bradley

    April 23, 2019 at 10:34 am

    I thought your discussion of euphemisms in helping children grieve was really interesting. This reminds me of the generic responses parents often give children when their pets die—that the animal “went to live on a farm” or “ran away.” One of my friends was told at age 6 that her dog went to live on a farm, and didn’t learn what really happened until high school. In a way, she had to go through a shortened version of the mourning process all over again in high school, since she hadn’t grieved the true reality the first time. I think your conclusions are spot on…the finality of death is hard enough without making it confusing and ambiguous as well.

  8. I really like how this post is structured by separating the different stages of life in clear distinct paragraphs with subtitles. It was interesting to see how many other factors influence grief, such as culture, and not just age or gender. I had no idea that men in Hispanic culture were supposed to follow the idea of machismo to always be heroic and strong, even when experiencing the loss of a loved one. Do you believe that if the United States were to have a Day of the Dead like that of Hispanic culture, American adolescents would be more likely to express their emotions without feeling “weird” or “different” than they did before and thus avoiding the stages of anger, irritability, and moodiness altogether?

  9. Brianna Ramgeet

    April 23, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    I really liked how your topic was explained in terms of younger people, but my immediate question was whether or not there has been research done on whether or not grieving behavior usually seen in adolescents can be commonly seen in individuals who are in the middle of their lives? Also, has it been seen where the level of grief felt by children is affected by the hardships they’ve experienced in their short lives?

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post, as I did not realize the extent in which Americans and Hispanic cultures grieved differently. I also learned a lot about how children grieve differently in various developmental stages. It would be interesting to see how a child’s grieving process aligns with the Kubler-Ross theory of death mentioned in the “Universal and Cross-Cultural Models of Grief” post. When first explaining that adults grieve differently, you argue that they do so because they have a “fully developed understanding of death.” While adults may have a better understanding of death than children do, it would be difficult to proves that adults understand death in its entirety. Your claim makes me wonder; what defines an adult understanding of death?

  11. This post was very effective in the purpose of distinguishing the different grief processes by age. The subheadings clearly defined the distinction between the groups. Lots of psychological and anthropological terms were used, like Piaget’s model, “machismo”, “egoism” and more, I felt very educated after reading this post as the group did a good job of defining and placing into context those vocabulary words. Although I was surprised the famous and well known Kubler-Ross Model on the five stages of grief was not mentioned at all. One thing I found interesting and very pleasing was the way cross culture references were implemented into the post. Hispanic culture was compared to Japanese and to American/Western culture. I grew up in a Hispanic home in American society so the mesh of the grief process is something I grew up feeling conflicted with. The process by which Hispanics experience grief is more of a family endeavor versus the more lonesome grief process in Western culture. I have experienced both a death of a Hispanic and an American loved one and experienced the differences in the ways those around me grieve.

  12. I thought that the way the information was presented and organized was extremely well done. I appreciate how the post further analyzes how culture plays a role and impacts the ways in which individuals respond and cope with the concept of death. By integrating the distinctions between American and Hispanic culture and how they express their emotions was really interesting cause I had never really thought about the differences in grieving behavior before. I also really enjoyed reading about the ways in which different ages interpret the meaning of death differently especially when you think how gender plays a role in the ways children are taught to behave and express how they feel due to cultural and societal norms.

  13. I liked the way you structured your post by working back through life instead of starting with birth. This allowed the reader to go back through their own life and remember each process as it applied to them personally. I was also very interested in the section of your post about the machismo culture in Hispanic families. This social norm has been commonly accepted for years, and as the world changes it still seems to remain. Do you think it is possible to change the way Hispanic culture interprets masculinity? Because the machismo culture is negatively impacting the mental health of Hispanic males, one would think the society would encourage men to express their grief in a more natural way in order to create a more open, accepting society. However, it is understandable that this norm is likely hard to change because it has been commonly practiced in their culture for so long. Similarly, in Japanese culture the taboo of referencing death around young children likely fosters mental health issues as children likely do not know how to cope with or understand death in general. Do you think more cultures and societies should convert to the American way of teaching about death, by giving ‘honest and concrete’ description?

  14. This post was very informative in explaining how grief affects different age groups. I think adolescence is a challenging age because they are old enough to completely understood what has happened and they are independent, but death is also something that is unfamiliar and removed from them. I wonder if they process the deaths differently passed on how old the person who passed away was. For example, they are likely somewhat prepared to lose a grandparent and can talk solace in them being out of pain and leading a long life versus losing a peer which can feel sudden and cruel. I also thought it was interesting how many western-cultured parents try to hide their grief, this definitely is a reoccurring theme we have seen in class about remaining stoic. This post brought up the use of euphemisms as stalling the grieving process which is intriguing as our group focused on the “verbal documentation of death” and how euphemisms are purposely used to soften the blow of death. It is thought provoking to think that these euphemisms could instead be creating greater harm to an already painful loss.

  15. Gabrielle Geiger

    April 24, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    I think this post was very well written and informative. I appreciate how you included the many stages of life and how grief is experienced differently in each stage. I found it interesting that even in each stage there were minor differences in how an individual could experience grief. For example, during adolescence individuals could be extremely emotional or not express emotions at all. I think that this just goes to show that these reactions are very personal and every experiences grief differently, no one person experiences it the same. I think that your most made me think the most about what qualifies an understanding of death. Your post talks about how adults can process death and grieve differently than children due to their understanding of death, but what is it that allows adults to understand that? I personally do not know if I have an understanding of death at twenty two, so I would be curious if there are some sort of “qualifications” for the purpose of this post.

  16. This post was so interesting to read! As you walked through how the grief differs as age changes, I found myself thinking back to when I was those ages to see if what I thought at the time was congruent with your findings. The symptoms of “depression, anger, and anxiety” that you identified were similar to those my pod found within our research on how the grieving process differs with gender. It was also fascinating to me to better understand how death is handled by those in their early childhood, since they do not have a developed sense of what death entails. By keeping a normal routine, the kids appeared to better cope with the death they were dealing with. This concept seemed to tie in especially with males, as we found that in the event there were gender differences, males liked to focus on task-oriented goals to take their mind off their loss. This was a very well written post and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about how grief differs with age.

  17. Your post brings up really interesting issues regarding childhood and grief. A huge determinant of the way a child grieves, I believe is in part to their undeveloped frontal lobe which aids in higher-level thinking. Children view death as something surface level, as you mentioned. On the other hand, adults are often faced with shock or numbness to death. I believe this is in part due to stressors that result in inflammation and sickness behaviors (mentioned in my pod’s post on gender differences in the grieving process). However, I wonder why this same response is not elicited in children – that is, why do children not experience the sickness behaviors that adults do following the death of an individual? Of course, it could be do to the fact that they are just young and their understanding is limited, but I would be really interested to see the differences biologically between adults and children when it comes to grieving.

  18. As a human development and family studies major, I think the way that you organized this post by age and culture is very informational. Bereavement manifests differently depending on the age at which the death is experienced and many people don’t consider this when thinking about grief. I think it would have been interesting to incorporate bereavement in late adulthood because it does vary from middle adulthood. Especially considering the high rate at which older adults die/lose spouses and the notion of broken heart syndrome.

  19. Tierra Faulkner

    April 25, 2019 at 12:11 am

    As demonstrated by the title, I appreciate how this paper explains the different ways we experience or understand grief depending upon age. Until college I wouldn’t say I experienced the death of an immediate family member or best friend (someone I saw or spoke to daily), this gave me a lot of time to experience death through the experiences of others and understand it in a healthy way. I found the cultural aspect to be interesting as well. Seeing as how healing or relieving it is to express one’s emotions, I find it interesting that in Hispanic culture males are expected to remain stoic or emotionless during bereavement. On the other hand, traditions like day of the dead shows how death is communicated and understood differently within Hispanic culture.

  20. This was a really interesting and well written article. It was really informative and provided sufficient data on bereavement during one’s life span. I found it interesting how you mentioned how children felt the need to suppress their feelings about death to not be seen as weird or different. I always believed children suppressed their feelings because they weren’t fully capable of wrapping their heads around the concept of death. I also found it surprising that children in their early ages also tend to blame themselves or feel responsible for a loss. I mainly found it interesting that an early child’s brain was capable of feeling such guilt at such as young age. In another article I read how areas of the brain are inflamed due to becoming depressed after losing a loved one. Does the same happen with children? If so, would they then be given the same anti-depressants or are they too young? Also do the feelings of guilt affect the children in any way when they grow older or do they tend to get rid of/ grow out of the guilt they feel?

  21. I loved the focus on Hispanic households. Being a second-generation male and having my grandmother be an immigrant from Ecuador, the overall points that are brought up are accurate. As a child I was told boys don’t cry, I needed to be tough and manly, the machismo attitude mentioned within the article. What I have seen is that over time my grandmother has begun taking mental issues a bit more seriously, with my mom and her siblings being more open to discussion when it comes to possibly seeking medical attention for it. And this is mainly due to the fact that one of the men in the family recently was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It’s good to see that someone pointed out how Hispanic culture almost throttles ways of grieving. Is there a potential for a larger scale shift away from a machismo culture in the coming years? Moreso in the United States but potentially elsewhere in Latin America?

  22. Harrison Davis

    April 25, 2019 at 6:55 am

    I liked how the writer set up the different ways of grieving by adulthood first. I think this is very important because it shows that kids need to go through the grieving process too with their loved ones. I think this is something every parent should read because it could be detrimental to a kids mental health. If they never get over a death in their childhood, how will they handle another close loved one dying? There is a lot of psychological issues that could arise from that. I did have one question about the cultural aspect though. If there is a hispanic holiday celebrating the dead then wouldn’t the kids be exposed to the taboo subject?

  23. It was interesting to learn about how children’s views about death evolve through Piaget’s four stages of development. Personally, I have not yet experienced the death of someone I have actually spent time with, so I have always wondered what my reaction would be to such an event. I can also relate to what was said about children in late childhood concealing their feeling, because I used to confidently think to myself that I would not cry when such a thing happened. The cultural differences were very interesting as well.

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