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Boletim de Psicologia

Print version ISSN 0006-5943


ALMEIDA, Fabiane de Amorim. Dealing with death and mourning through play: children with cancer in hospital. Bol. psicol [online]. 2005, vol.55, n.123, pp. 149-167. ISSN 0006-5943.

Reflecting upon the way children with cancer deal with symbolic and concrete loss due to hospitalization, the author made use of therapeutic play in order to understand the process of mourning experienced by children and to identify their conceptions about death. The research was based on 33 reports of therapeutic play sessions with 2 to 5-year-old children, conducted from 1997 to 1999. The data were submitted to Bardin's technique of content analysis and 4 categories of meanings were identified: losses experienced by children during the hospitalization, the perception of hospitalization as a new situation in life, the ability to cope with the situation through play and the presence of death on it. It was also observed the inability of these children to understand death as an irreversible and peculiar fact inherent to life.

Keywords : Play and games; Therapeutic play; Hospitalized child; Death and mourning.

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