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Everyone should read this doctor's poignant life lessons from terminally ill children

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Dave Fawbert
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Kid ice cream

Death and illness is always a difficult thing for anyone to deal with, but it’s perhaps particularly hard when those affected are children.

An adult may at least feel that they’ve had a go at this thing called life, and may have learned some mechanisms to cope with pain, or the possibility of an early death.

But for children, who’ve not had much time to either live or learn, it seems heartbreaking that they should have to deal with something so tragic.

However, perhaps we underestimate them.

At least, that’s the take home message from this incredibly poignant Twitter thread posted by Cape Town-based Paediatrician Alastair McAlpine.

He explained how, for an assignment, he asked some of his terminal paediatric palliative care patients what they had enjoyed in life, and what gave it meaning, and proceeded to list his findings.

They are, naturally, tinged with overwhelming sadness, but they’re also incredibly, unbelievably wise - and they’ve, rightly, gone viral.

Here is the thread in full:

“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:

First:

NONE said they wished they’d watched more TV

NONE said they should’ve spent more time on Face Book

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.’

The UK’s favourite dog breed has been decided 1

Dogs: brilliant

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 favourite!’

’I love Batman!’ (All the boys love Batman)

’I like cuddling my teddy’

Everyone should read this doctor's poignant life lessons from terminally ill children

Batman: brilliant

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!’

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.”

Absolutely amazing.

One more time, because it bears repeating:

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…The rest is details. Oh… and eat ice-cream.

Have there ever been truer words written?

(Main image: Rex)

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Dave Fawbert

ShortList.com acting editor Dave’s is famous for electropop, power ballads and urban snake wrangling. A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 202 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

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