Dr. Alastair McAlpine, a palliative pediatrician from Cape Town, South Africa, shared the results of a research assignment where he asked kids with terminal illnesses what gave their lives the most meaning. The kids’ responses were heart-wrenching.
For an assignment, I asked some of my terminal paediatric palliative care patients what they had enjoyed in life, and what gave it meaning. Kids can be so wise, y’know. Here are some of the responses (Thread).
MANY mentioned their parents, often expressing worry or concern:
‘Hope mum will be ok. She seems sad.’
‘Dad mustn’t worry. He’ll see me again soon.’
‘God will take care of my mum and dad when I’m gone’
Another thing that Dr. McAlpine noted about the children’s responses, was how the children seemed to appreciate the simple things they did with their loved ones.
Many of the children spoke about how they liked being told stories and reading.
ALL of them loved books or being told stories, especially by their parents:
‘Harry Potter made me feel brave.’
‘I love stories in space!’
‘I want to be a great detective like Sherlock Holmes when I’m better!’
Many children appreciated the people who just treated them ‘normally.’
MANY wished they had spent less time worrying about what others thought of them, and valued people who just treated them ‘normally’.
‘My real friends didn’t care when my hair fell out.’
‘Jane came to visit after the surgery and didn’t even notice the scar!’ /6
One of the most meaningful parts of life according to the children was exactly how amazing it felt to just be loved.
They all valued kindness.
Almost ALL of them valued kindness above most other virtues:
‘My granny is so kind to me. She always makes me smile.’
‘Jonny gave me half his sandwich when I didn’t eat mine. That was nice.’
‘I like it when that kind nurse is here. She’s gentle. And it hurts less’ /8
Almost ALL of them loved people who made them laugh:
‘That magician is so silly! His pants fell down and I couldn’t stop laughing!’
‘My daddy pulls funny faces which I just love!’
‘The boy in the next bed farted! Hahaha!’