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A Doctor Asked Dying Children What Gives Life Meaning ... Prepare Yourself

These kids know what it's really about.
Umkehrer via Getty Images

Hey, have you ugly cried yet today?


OK, cool, let us help you out with that with this series of tweets from a South African pedicatrician who asked his terminally ill patients — children, to be clear — what really matters in life. Their heartbreaking answers, which range from ice cream and the beach to spending time with their families, will make you re-evaluate your own priorities.

"Kids can be so wise, y'know," Alastair McAlpine, a palliative pediatrician in Cape Town, posted February 1 in a now-viral tweet.

First of all, not one terminally ill child said they'd wished they spent more time watching TV or on Facebook, McAlpine wrote. None of them enjoyed fighting with others or being in the hospital. And many wished they'd spent less time worrying about what other people thought.

What did they enjoy? Their pets, ice cream, the beach, stories (especially those read to them by their parents), laughing, toys, time with family, and kindness.

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.'


— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) February 1, 2018

"No one loves me like mummy loves me!" one child told McAlpine.

"I like cuddling my teddy," another child said.

The terminally ill children also expressed a lot of concern and worry about their parents, and how they would cope, McAlpine wrote.

Listen to the life advice of these wise children, McAlpine urged.

"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," McAlpine wrote.

"These are the things these kids wished they could've done more. The rest is details. Oh ... and eat ice-cream."

McAlpine's tweets touched people around the world, including Canadian OB-GYN Jennifer Gunter.

The children McAlpine spoke to were ages four to nine, he told BBC. McAlpine decided to train in children's palliative care after he noticed people didn't seem prepared for what to do with dying kids, he told BBC.

"The best part of my job now is that I get to meet these extraordinary children and families. I walk a special road with them," he said.

"As horrible as it is when a child dies, one of the best rewards is a dignified and pain-free death. If I can make their lives slightly less bad, it's worthwhile. That keeps me going."

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