MINNEAPOLIS – Every year 43,000 children die in the United States.
But, when people talk about death they rarely talk about kids. For many, the death of a child can be too much to even consider talking about. But, kids do get sick and face the end of life.
When your work concerns the children facing the longest odds you do not get to ignore the truth.
“I can't tell you how many times kids have answered that question of ‘What are you worried about?’ with ‘I'm afraid I’m dying and it scares mom to talk about it,’” says Dr. Kris Catrine at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
“Anything else a kid wants to talk about they can talk about with their family and have support and this is sort of taboo. So, the scariest thing in their mind they can't talk about; that's a lot of weight on a child,” adds Catrine.
Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf at Children’s Minnesota and his staff work tirelessly to fight for life, but also realize another conversation has to happen.
“What we are asking is like considering what your daughter is up against, what are you hoping for? And, most of the time, we hear ‘I hope for a miracle cure.’ And, then you look them in the eye and say ‘I hope this too,’” said Dr. Friedrichsdorf. “Just in case a miracle does not happen, what else are you hoping for?”
They talk about what will make the child happy. Whether that’s just to go outside, go to school again or just to talk about what’s going on.
Dr. Kris Catrine and Dr. Friedrichsdorf work in the Palliative Care program at Children’s Minnesota.