Archive for Children

A Perinatal Story

baby and momI was uncertain of what “perinatal” meant.

Though I’ve been colleagues for several years with the Angel Babies counselors at the hospice where I work, I was, well . . . ignorant.

[Read Disclaimer here.]

In my feeble defense, I’m not directly involved with the Angel Babies program. I’m also not a medical expert, and even “easy” terminology stumps me. Additionally, my wife and I don’t have children.

There were a series of unremarkable events—a phone call, a conversation, a few words on a webpage—that led me to learn “perinatal” referred to the before and after time period around the birth of a child. Here’s the sentence from the webpage that I’m sure I’d read before and had—like humans often do—overlooked the words I didn’t understand: Read More →

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No Matter How Small

A baby's gown from the project in Fort Worth, Texas.

A baby’s gown from the project in Fort Worth, Texas.

I gazed at the newly created gowns and held my breath.

They were not the vibrant colors of rainbows and spring flowers, but shades of white: pearl, ivory, and eggshell. All were like silk to the touch and probably many were literally made from silk.

Some boasted buttons. Brocade embellished the hems. There was intricate stitching in each outfit, but all appeared as simple as they were elegant. Though ignorant about designing and sewing clothes, I have learned that every simple-looking creative effort represents hours of labor and years of experience. Read More →

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How Can I Tell My Kid I’m Dying?

parent-childA patient recently asked his hospice nurse, “How can I tell my kid that I’m dying?”

Before attempting answers, there are several excellent reasons to “question” my responses.

First, I don’t have children. I’ll never tell my own kid that I am dying.

Second, I’m not an expert. There are excellent books, from scholarly research on “children and dying” to kids’ books containing well-chosen words and lovely drawings to help youngsters (and parents) discuss death. In the grief groups I’ve lead, I often mention Patty Dann’s 2007 memoir “The Goldfish Went On Vacation” for insights on telling kids about a dying parent. Known for her best-selling novel “Mermaids,” Dann wrote about her husband’s brain cancer and how she dealt with their young son before and after the death. While I heartily recommend Dann’s book, I’m only aware of a spoonful of resources in the gallons of books, blogs and articles* that are available.

Now you know my advice-giver weaknesses! However, in the realm of conversations involving parents, kids and dying, being open about weaknesses (and strengths) is essential.

For my responses, I’m guided by a favorite quote from President Franklin Roosevelt: be sincere; be brief; and be seated. That was the 32nd President’s humorous views on public speaking. Read More →

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