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Appendix C - Children and Families Cross-Referenced

Fredman, Glenda Karnac Books ePub

APPENDIX C

Children and families cross-referenced

Georgie H

CHAPTER 1: 6–7, 12   CHAPTER 3: 39–40   CHAPTER 4: 64–66

Georgie was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour when he was 3 years old. Following surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, he enjoyed two years of good health before a sudden regrowth of the tumour. Progress and spread of the cancer halted Georgie's education only three months after he started attending school. He died shortly after his sixth birthday, and his mother sought help for her concerns about the effects of Georgie's death on his 3-year-old sister, Lisa.

Daniel and Benjamin T

CHAPTER 1: 7–8   CHAPTER 4: 61, 62, 63, 66–71, 74–76   CONCLUSION: 123

Mrs T and her 9-year-old twin boys, Daniel and Benjamin, met with me following the death of the boys' father. Mr T had died unexpectedly five months previously while the boys were away at boarding school. The family's doctor had requested help for Daniel, who “was talking incessantly to his father throughout the night”. Mrs T had started attending spiritualist meetings after her husband's death.

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Chapter Four - Creating New Stories

Fredman, Glenda Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER FOUR

Creating new stories

Alan described how he and his children would make up stories together at bedtime. Recently, 4-year-old Ron had been “introducing death into the stories”; 2-year-old Sarah “would always add a princess or two”. Alan acknowledged with amusement his attempts to “sugar the pill”. Each time Ron “killed off a character”, Alan would find more inventive ways of bringing that person back to life with “reviving drinks, reversal spells—you name it”.

In order to make sense of our lives, we organize our experiences of events, thoughts, and feelings into coherent accounts in a way that such narratives can give meaning to our experiences. These stories can create for us a sense of continuity in our lives and provide a framework for interpreting further experiences. Therefore we live our lives according to those stories that we tell ourselves and those that we are told by others. Our stories shape our lives, influencing which experiences we pay attention to, give meaning to, and continue to incorporate into our constantly evolving narratives (White & Epston, 1990).

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Appendix A - Some Theories of Death and Mourning

Fredman, Glenda Karnac Books ePub

APPENDIX A

Some theories of death and mourning

Developmental theories

Developmental theories of children's understanding of death commonly include the idea that a person's concept of death can be more or less complete and that a mature concept of death necessarily involves several different components, including the perception of death as a natural process which is final, irreversible, and universal. The conceptual underpinning of these theories has most frequently been Piagetian (1958), and researchers have sought to delineate ages and stages at which children acquire key components, with a view to establishing the age at which to expect full development of the concept. Kane (1979), for example, identified nine components of the death concept with ages at which they emerge. She reported that children between the ages of 3 and 5 years have a basic realization of the separation involved in death as well as the immobility of the dead person, although immobility may be seen as only partial and temporary. By 6 years, the child comprehends the irrevocability of death, has a notion that death induces dysfunctionality, and is beginning to make sense of the causality of death; by 7 years, the child recognizes the universality of death. Although, by 8 years children acknowledge the insensitivity of the dead person, according to Kane it is only by the age of 12 that they fully comprehend the effects of death on appearance.

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Chapter Three - Getting It Right

Fredman, Glenda Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER THREE

Getting it right

The perfect death

Mrs H repeatedly referred to her memory of the day that her 6-year-old son Georgie died. She sobbed when she pictured his final breath and what she described as the “fit” that preceded it. Several times she drew for me a powerful image of how “his eyes rolled back in his head, he twitched and shook and went dead and staring, pale and milky…his mouth wide open, his eyes glazed”. She wept that Georgie had not died peacefully, had not “just floated away…why did he have to struggle like that?”

Dying is not always a beautiful affair, and how people die can remain with the memories of the people who live on. The effects of these memories can differ, depending on the theories that the bereaved use to make sense of the episode of death. Beginning with the theory that a good death is a peaceful death, a pain-free death, involving open communication between all family members and honest preparation of the child, Mrs H could only lament the lost opportunity for such a perfect death and criticize herself for not doing the right things to enable it. Feeling a failure that she had not helped her son to have a peaceful and easy death, she experienced his death in terms of a “fit” and a “struggle”, which she attributed to her refusal to heed the advice she was given to “let go” and to her difficulty with managing his pain control.

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Chapter Five - Creating Memories Towards “Co-Memorating”

Fredman, Glenda Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER FIVE

Creating memories towards “co-memorating”

David (aged 12), Joanna (aged 8), and Martin (aged 5) all sobbed when they spoke of their grandmother's death. Mrs E reported that the family had “not been ourselves since nan died”. Mr E reported that he and his wife had attended the cremation, but it had been “pointless—we made nothing of it. Odd to have something where my mum did not take part. She was always part of everything we did in our family—Sunday lunch, birthdays…David came along, but we could see no point in bringing the little ones—it meant nothing to us. Nothing special—not like she was.”

Some people come for help lamenting that they have no ideas at all about what to do at times of loss and bereavement and seek a prescribed format to guide their action. For the E family, the actions and events available for mourning at the time of their grandmother's death seemed hollow, lacking the special meanings that they associated with her. Mr E complained that the cremation ceremony disconnected them from a sense of her presence, which he saw as essential to the occasion. Therefore the event offered family members no genuine sense of healing. For others the dilemma is not so much how to act, but rather how to negotiate a way to act within a context that does not open space for their preferred actions.

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