We all know that there are plenty of children in this world who are terminally ill, but they often go overlooked in the day to day world. Most people if not closely affected don’t think much of them or the things they are going through and that is a problem.
I recently came across a seemingly viral thread on Twitter that really put these children on my mind. You see, Dr. Alastair McAlpine, who spends his time caring for terminally ill children in a palliative care clinic spends a lot of his time making these children comfortable and doing his best to help them stay as happy/content as possible. He has learned so much from these children and we can all learn a lot from them as well.
Several months ago he posted that he had asked some of his patients what they enjoyed in life and what really gave their lives meaning. Keep in mind these are children who are so ill that they are most likely beyond treatment in more ways than I can explain. These wise children really went above and beyond with their responses.
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).
— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018
He wrote as follows as their responses on his thread:
NONE said they wished they’d watched more TV
NONE said they should’ve spent more time on FaceBook
NONE said they enjoyed fighting with others
NONE enjoyed hospital
MANY mentioned their pets:
‘I love Rufus, his funny bark makes me laugh.’
‘I love when Ginny snuggles up to me at night and purrs’
‘I was happiest riding Jake on the beach.’
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’
ALL of them loved ice-cream.
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!’
Folks, read to your kids! They love it.
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!’
Many of them loved swimming and the beach.
‘I made big sandcastles!’
‘Being in the sea with the waves was so exciting! My eyes didn’t even hurt!’
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’
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!’
Laughter relieves pain.
Kids love their toys and their superheroes.
‘My Princess Sophia doll is my favorite!’
‘I love Batman!’ (All the boys love Batman)
‘I like cuddling my teddy’
Finally, they ALL valued time with their family. Nothing was more important.
‘Mum and dad are the best!’
‘My sister always hugs me tight’
‘No one loves me like mummy loves me!’
As if this wasn’t enough to leave everyone in tears he ended things with a message to us all:
Take home message:
Be kind. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them.
These are the things these kids wished they could’ve done more. The rest is details.
Oh… and eat ice-cream.
When you are feeling down and out remember these things and remember the children who are so wise and humble even when facing death. If they can be so amazing even in their worst moments so can the rest of the world. How do their words make you feel?