Death is not a mere possibility but a certainty for all of us. Yet, today's society unrealistically portrays childhood as a time of unremittant joy and freedom. Unfortunately, the reality of life may suddenly bring children face to face with tragic circumstances such as the death of their pet, the terminal illness of their parent, their own struggle with life-threatening disease, the accidental death of their sibling, or the suicide of a friend. The gravity of any of these situations takes children beyond the innocence of childhood and plunges them into a world that is frightening and full of uncertainty. Unfortunately, our perceptions and attitudes toward death do not equip children with the tools to help them cope adequately with such overwhelming experiences.
Beyond the Innocence of Childhood is a collection of forty chapters which are divided into three separate volumes. The overall purpose of this series is to answer the question: How do we as educators, clinicians, other professionals, and parents help children and adolescents deal with threat to their lives, dying, death, and bereavement?
In this three volume set the editors have brought together a number of well-known educators, researchers, and practitioners who share their knowledge and expertise concerning the care and well-being of children and adolescents.
SPECIFIC TO VOLUME 1
Children explore the world around them through spontaneous, and later, structured learning, acquire knowledge, learn to understand themselves, establish their role in the family, develop peer and adult relationships, and find their place in the world. However, today's society does not include death as part of this developmental process. Unfortunately, such avoidance may negatively influence children's ability to acquire an understanding of the concepts of death and to develop positive attitudes toward death.
Highlights of this section include:
Answering children's questions
Children and death--past, present, and future
Perceptions of death, cognitive development, and children's artwork
The second part of volume 1 examines influences in today's society that potentially impact on children and adolescents' perceptions and attitudes toward life-threatening illness and death. This volume offers readers valuable insights into the various factors which ultimately affect children's ability to achieve a mature understanding of death. Features include the following:
Violent death in a popular culture and the media
Political conflict and war
The epidemic of AIDS
Cultural differences in the management of life-threatening illness
Death rituals and funeral ceremonies
PART A: HELPING CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS COPE WITH LIFE-THREATENINGILLNESS AND THREAT TO THEIR LIVES
The Use of Art in Helping Children Cope with Life-Threatening Illness, Robert G. Stevenson
Re-Storying Brokenness: Using Story and Active Imagination to Help Seriously Ill Children and their Families, Donna O'Toole
Music Therapy for Children with Cancer, Petra Hinderer
The Therapeutic Use of Play in Helping Children whose Lives are Threatened, Ruth M. Snider
The Use of Humor and Laughter in Helping Children Cope with Life-Threatening Illness, Gerry R. Cox, Eleanor J. Deveau, and David W. Adams
Pets: A Source of Hope for Children with Life-Threatening Illness, Sharon M. McMahon
Camps: A Therapeutic Adjunct for Children with Cancer or HIV/AIDS, John T. Maher
Helping Lethal Suicidal Adolescents, Antoon A. Leenaars and Susanne Wenckstern
The Suffering of Children and Adolescents with Life-Threatening Illness: Factors Involved and Ways Professionals Can Help, David W. Adams
PART B: HELPING DYING CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
Palliative Care for Children Dying of Cancer: Psychosocial Issues, Michael M. Stevens
The Impact of the Hospital System on Dying Children and their Families, Mark L. Greenberg
Lessons on Living from Dying Adolescents, Joan M. Auden
Imagery for Children in Pain: Experiencing Threat to Life and the Approach of Death, Leora Kuttner and Cynthia A. Stutzer
When Truth Hurts..., John T. Maher and Eleanor G. Pask
The Influence of Spirituality on Dying Children's Perceptions of Death, L.L. (Barrie) deVeber
Challenges in Developing a Children's Hospice, Betty Davies and Brenda Eng
Using Story to Help Children Cope with Dying, Death and Bereavement: An Annotated Resource
"We never talked about death when I was a child, so what am I supposed to tell my children? Many adults including educators, clinicians, and counselors find themselves in this situation. Here at last, is an expert and comprehensive guide to helping young people deal with the anxieties, losses, and mysteries associated with death. Never again need one feel unprepared to cope with the challenges that arise when the innocence of childhood is penetrated by the reality of death and loss."
—Robert Kastenbaum, Department of Communication, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
"David Adams and Ellie Deveau have put together a wonderful series of articles in this three volume set dealing with the realities of children and adolescents facing death and bereavement. Based on their own extensive research and practical experience, as well as the voluminous contributions of many collaborators, they cover many of the most important issues and concerns facing children, parents, physicians, and social service staffs concerned with these issues. This three volume set is without doubt the most comprehensive and accessible compendium of material now available on the topics of children's views and experiences with death and dying."
—Mark A. Chesler, Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan, Research Consultant to Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation
"This is an excellent, well-referenced volume incorporating contemporary theory, research and clinical practice. It is recommended as an important and valuable resource for educators/clinicians and other professionals working with children and adolescents to help them deal with threat to their lives, dying, death and bereavement."
—Jane Skeen, Psediatric Hsematology/Oncology Service Starship Children's Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand, Grief Matters: The Australian Journal of Grief and Bereavement, 2002