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A Global History of Child Death

Mortality, Burial, and Parental Attitudes

Amy J. Catalano

Drawing from primary research studies in archaeology, historical analysis, literature, and art this interdisciplinary look at the history of child funerary practices and other vehicles of parental mourning is the only book of its kind. The purpose of this work is to investigate the ways in which funerary behaviors and grieving differ between cultures and across time; from prehistory to modern history. Philippe Aries, the French childhood historian, argued that children were rarely mourned upon their deaths as child death was a frequent and expected event, especially in the Middle Ages. This book draws upon archaeological reports, secondary data analysis, and analysis of literature, photography and artwork to refute, and in some cases support, Aries’s claim. Organized in two parts, Part One begins with a chapter on the causes of childhood mortality and the steps taken to prevent it, followed by chapters on prehistory, ancient civilizations, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and the early modern and late modern eras. The chapters in Part Two discuss indicators of parental concern at a child’s death: naming practices, replacement strategy, baptism, consolation literature, and artwork. Students who focus on the psychological aspects of death, funeral practices, and childhood histories will find this book a useful and comprehensive tool for examining how children have been mourned since prehistory.
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6 Modern Times: The Psychology of Grief

Consolation and Grief



Modern Times

The Psychology of Grief

At present, on the internet one can find instructions on how to do anything, from making a bomb to baking a chocolate soufflé, from how to potty train your child to how to mourn your child., for example, has a twenty-five step process on how to “Survive the Death of your Child (with Pictures)”. While there are more authoritative sources that a parent might consult, the ease with which we can find such information is indicative of the lack of stigma in grieving openly. Further, with the popularity of psychoanalysis and psychiatry also comes the formalization of the grieving process. This chapter revisits childhood mortality, with a focus on the modern developed world, and with a discussion of child death within the context of major world events: the Nazi Holocaust, school shootings, and war.

About 55,000 children die in the U.S. each year. According to the CDC’s 2010 data set (the most recent data available), of the ten leading causes of death and injury, infants under the age of one die of congenital anomalies, pre-term birth, SIDS and injury, while the leading cause of death for children and adolescents ages one to eighteen is unintentional injury. Homicide and injury are among the top five causes for children ages one to eighteen. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for children and young adults ages ten to twenty-four. Other causes of...

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