December 1963

Preschool Child's Response to Death of Infant Sibling

Author Affiliations

Donald L. Weston, PhD, University of Rochester Medical School, 260 Crittenden Blvd, Rochester, NY.; Senior Instructor of Psychiatry (Psychology) and Pediatrics (Psychology), University of Rochester Medical School, Rochester, NY (Dr. Weston) and Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland Medical School (Dr. Irwin).

Am J Dis Child. 1963;106(6):564-567. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1963.02080050566006

When an infant patient dies, the pediatrician has the potential to help the family in the resolution of their grief. He is also important in interpreting the meaning of the loss of an expected baby or an infant sibling for other children of the family. His understanding helps the parents in working with their other children around this experience.7 This paper focuses on the response of the preschool child to this experience of loss and the help which the pediatrician can offer through his understanding.

The loss of a stillborn child or the death of an infant produces a significant emotional response in all members of a family. G. Bibring describes the "maturational integration" which occurs in the mother during pregnancy, and the same process would be expected in other family members.2 When the assumption of new roles is disrupted by the death of the child, new adaptations

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