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Death and Bereavement

  • By: Mary Ann Teitelbaum
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

To effectively assist a student in dealing with a death, the school psychologist must have an understanding of the student's developmental level and an understanding of the bereavement process. This article reviews the role of the student's developmental level in coping with grief, the bereavement process, and bereavement programs available within the schools.

Children's Understanding of Death from a Developmental Perspective

Chronological age, cognitive and socioemotional development, culture, and experiences all influence a child's understanding of death. Important concepts in understanding a child's view of death include:

  • Universality (All living things die.)
  • Irreversibility (A physically dead body cannot live again.)
  • Nonfunctionality (All physical functions cease.)
  • Causality (There is abstract and realistic understanding of the external and internal events that lead to death.)
  • Noncorporeal continuation (Some form of personal continuation exists after death ...
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