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Healing Children's GriefSurviving a Parent's Death from Cancer$
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Grace H. Christ

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780195105919

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195105919.001.0001

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Children 12–14 Years of Age: Themes

Children 12–14 Years of Age: Themes

(p.150) 11 Children 12–14 Years of Age: Themes
Healing Children's Grief

Grace Hyslop Christ

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the impact of terminal cancer on the lives of 38 children — 22 girls and 16 boys — ages 12 to 14. They came from 35 families, and their surviving parents were 21 mothers and 14 fathers. Before early adolescence, each new developmental advance made it easier for parents to help their children with the stresses of a patient's illness and death. As their ability to understand what was happening progressed, the children controlled their emotions and behavior better, communicated more effectively, and were easier to understand and support. Although they expanded their world, the family remained at its center. The entrance into puberty and adolescence produced such a level of disquiet in these youngsters that it was harder to separate the reactions evoked by the patient's condition from reactions related to developmental changes. While many non-bereaved adolescents do exhibit minimal stress and disorganization during this developmental period, the event of parental terminal illness and death posed a significant challenge.

Keywords:   terminal cancer, children, surviving parents, bereavement, bereaved children, early adolescence

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