Children talk about death

Acta Paediatr Scand. 1981 Mar;70(2):179-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1981.tb05538.x.


As a psychoanalyst in a pediatric nephrology ward, I have listened to children talking about dying and death. As soon as a child can express himself freely on this subject, no further age-dependent progress concerning the concept of death can be observed. Faced with disease and death, the child is led to the same images and conclusions, to the same order of ideas as the adult. This clearsightedness does not prevent the appearance of mechanisms of defence against the idea of death. Faced with the silence of the adult, the dying child shuts himself up in loneliness. However, the child does not want to be alone: he craves to be recognized. During the time left before his death, to be recognized is for him synonymous with: "to be recognized near death". To let a child talk about his death is to let him talk about his life, to bring him the only possible help, that is, to be with him till the end.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy
  • Psychology, Child*