Caring for children, especially those who may be quite ill or dying, requires special skill sets. Here, in the first of a series of conversations, Tsunma Jamyang gives a general introduction to caring nobly for younger individuals. She emphasizes the need to be aware of their entire family, and to respect their wishes and their boundaries. Additionally, she stresses the importance of gentleness and dropping any agenda at the bedside of a child.
How to Care for Children Facing Severe Illness or Death
When we are caring for children, we need to establish a trust—so go slowly and take time. Tsunma-la reminds us that we should not disclose too much, but also respect a child’s curiosity about their own situation. She points out that children often exhibit great compassion for their own family members and for caregivers. They worry about how other patients are feeling, or about how their parents or doctors are coping. We can often learn a great deal by asking very open questions or using forms of play or games to engage the child.
One of the exercises we can use is to invite the child to go to his or her “favorite place”. In the second video in this series, Tsunma-la expands on that practice and gives us guidance on how to work with that practice.