Archive for Children

Come and See Grammy!


And he takes my hand and leads me back to the couch . . .

Come and see Grammy! She scared me at first, but then I think Grammy wants me to come sit by her.

This was a request from a nearly four-year-old grandson. In a church I served as an interim pastor, I visited a man whose wife had died. Temporarily helping the congregation for several months, I didn’t know him well and had never met his wife. Well, I had “met” her in a hospital’s intensive care unit. In her mid-seventies, she had a series of unexpected health emergencies that far too quickly led to her death. I had also done her funeral.

Preparing for the service, I learned about her from friends and family. A devoted wife. A loving mother. The go-to Grammy for favorite desserts and spur-of-the-moment babysitting needs. She had raised her kids, gotten a teaching credential, taught for two decades, and badgered her husband until he took her to Paris after both had retired. They had a thousand more plans.

None of those plans included her death.

I went to see her husband. Read More →

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12 Suggestions for Talking to Kids about Death

A patient asked his hospice nurse, “How can I tell my kid that I’m dying?”

And the nurse later asked me.

It’s a scary question for parents and grandparents when they enter hospice care and have “six months or less to live.”

Before attempting answers, there are several good 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, but do have experience. A minister, I’ve supported families during the time of dying and grieving. Right now, in hospice, I work in bereavement support.

Now you’re aware of my advice-giver flaws! However, with conversations involving parents, kids, and dying, being open about your weaknesses (and not forgetting your strengths) is important. Read More →

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Childish Hospice Lessons

In my Christian tradition, Jesus said, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

You could find that passage in Mark 10:15. But this I also know: all religions have scriptures and traditions that affirm the importance of every single precious child.

And every single “child-like” adult.

I believe Jesus understood God’s realm in two different ways. The first was after death. Eternal life. But the second was equally important. It is the realm of the next moment and next relationship and next decision. The “realm of God” is where what is said or done can reveal how God longs for us to be in community, to be neighbors.

As a hospice chaplain, I witnessed both paths: the hope of life after death, the hope of life now.

Remember how you felt when hurt by the words or ways of another and they came to you, honestly seeking your forgiveness? I hope you have had those experiences. In that moment, as you gave forgiveness, you helped build or rebuild a “community” between you and another. Forgiving is a way for the selfish to become the selfless, the stranger to be greeted as friend, hate transformed by mercy, fists replaced by welcoming hands. Read More →

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