Comprehending Death

High School ・Psychology ・APA ・2 Sources

Popular psychologists, such as Lawrence Kohlberg, Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, and Sigmund Freud, describe growth as a sequence of lifelong improvements. Notably, individuals progress through varying periods of development, and each stage is correlated with many forms of action and basic skills. People can perceive things differently in the various stages of development, as their ability to think increases over time. The definition of death then moves from children who, through puberty, adolescence, and at varying levels of maturity, have little conception of the issue of death at all (Crain, 2015). The conception of death depends on the cognitive development during the lifespan of a person. During the sensorimotor period, the child’s concept of death is incomplete, or it does not exist. When children suffer the loss of their parents especially at the ages of two years and below, they might show normal phases of detachment, despair, protest, and denial, but the responses are indistinguishable from those of separation.

Notably, during the pre-occupational period, that is the age of two to six years, the cognitive development of a child is dominated by magical thinking. Therefore, at this stage, the child thinks that death can be avoided or reversed. Remarkably, at this time, the child can conceptualize death and even show some degree of mourning. In some cases, the child might feel responsible for causing the death and consequently feel guilt and shame. Additionally, through the subsequent stage of development between the ages 6-12 years. The child can understand the reality of death, but they do not get its universality (Wilcox & Sutton, 2015). They think death happens to some people and not to their close friends and relatives. Generally, from the age of 9-10 years, children have a more mature understanding of death and have the knowledge that even themselves at a certain point will die inclusive of the people around them. Within adolescent years of children, their understanding and response towards death are the same as that of an adult. Adults have a full knowledge of the concept of death, and they grief in case they suffer a loss of a loved one.       


Crain, W. (2015). Theories of development.

Wilcox, S. & Sutton, M. (2015). Understanding death and dying. Palo Alto, Calif.: Mayfield Pub. Co.

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