When my younger son was in the first grade, just before he turned 7, a classmate died ( he slipped on ice and a truck ran over him). The children accepted the death, the parents were hysterical. When I went to the school to pick my son up, it was the parents that were weeping and crying in the hallway and outside the school. This went on for some time. There was so much of this, the children started to cry. My experience is that children do not have a reaction to death, it is the adults who create an idea of it being really sad which is not, as a reaction, really expressing any understanding of it.
When my boy's father died, I told them and many came and suggested that perhaps this was not a good idea. I also had friends who had a parent die, and they came and said to tell the boys because they had not been told and the secrecy around the death haunted them, they felt that something was being hidden and spent time trying to find out. They were angry that the adults were not being honest with them, so they were very explicit that I be honest about their father. All the reactions coming at me, even with what I was going through, surprised me, there were so many " things" in people that they never had shared.
My younger son who was seven, did not react too much, he seemed to be trying to understand what this meant. Later, as he grew up, he would express wanting to have a father, he did not use the words, my father, but a father. He was seeing what the other boys had.
Two days after his father's death, my younger son was out on a playground. I went out to check on him. There was this girl there who came up to me and said that my son was telling lies on the playground, he was telling the children that his father had died and had killed himself. I looked at the girl and said yes, it was true, she looked dumbfounded. I was in such shock, I think I did not have the thought to do anything put tell it as it was. Later I thought, maybe I should not have been so honest. But I was surprised that my son was telling people, like it was some event that was happening in his life, and the shock value of the story was " news" for his peers. So, at seven, children already know how to sensationalize, like the movies and stories on the news, and the behaviors of the parents instead of looking at why these things happen as they do.
My older son, at the time of his father's death, ran away, he did not want to know. And to this day, he does not really want to talk about it.
My younger son, also admits that he does not remember too much about his father.