Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry



To coin a title with the words "death" and "children" in it appears to me like the height of incongruity. Children are like definitions of life itself. They seem to bubble over and to foam with vitality. Life seems to be theirs, even the sickly and skinny ones, and death is the property of the old. Children have sparkling eyes and uncomplicated ways and innocence and a simplicity I envy. I am temporarily tempted to keep the little ones that way. I think of joining parents and educators who struggle to spare them from any ugliness in their world, especially the ugliness in human death (I).

This unfamiliar juxtaposition of children and death by Rober t Kavanaugh is the basis for this case report and discussion. Death as a subject, and dying as a process to bestudied, are areas of research that have only recently become prominent. The number of scientific and academic articles about death has risen from about twenty a year in the 1940's to several hundred per year in the 1970 's (2) . Bereavement remains, however, in some ways a neglected area of research (3). Now the task seems to be not simply to appreciate grief and mourning as species-wide human activities, but to begin to parse out the difficulties associated with specific types of death and dying, as well as the attributes or limitations of those who mourn.

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