We were in a hospital waiting room yesterday, and overheard the following conversation, about children dying:
W 1: “I saw this 13 year-old girl outside the hospital and her 6 year-old sister had just died. She lay down on the ground and wailed “I want her back, I want my sister back!”. I kept saying “Will someone sedate that child?”, but nobody would act.
W2: “I knew a family whose daughter was dying and they asked the nurses to keep their daughter’s hope alive. That night this nurse got a book and showed her exactly, picture by picture, what was happening to her lungs, and told her that she only had 4 months to live. I’d have took that book and beat her stupit wit it. After them telling the staff to keep the worst from her!”
The grammatical and spelling errors in W2 are actually Dublinisms that I didn’t want to change.
But seriously, it made me think about how we react to death and dying, in particular when it relates to a child, or maybe more accurately, a minor.
We don’t, obviously, know the full story in either case, but in W1, maybe the girl didn’t have enough time or information beforehand to come to terms with the idea of her sister dying. And doesn't she have the right to express her emotions? Certainly the idea, to me, of sedating somebody who is expressing a very normal emotion, is bizarre. Who wouldn’t want to howl “I want my sister back!"?
In W2, perhaps the child had asked, or indicated that she knew she was going to die; in that case, what is the nurse to do- lie to her? Does that child have a right to know what is happening to her?
I don’t have any answers to these questions, but I certainly found the conversation thought-provoking.