A doctor who cares for terminally-ill children has revealed the heart-wrenching words of wisdom of youngsters before they die.
Dr Alastair McAlpine from Paedspal Cape Town paediatric palliative care, tweeted saying young patients often wish they had spent less time worrying and more time at the beach, reading books or eating ice cream.
Many youngsters are also concerned about how their parents will cope when they are gone, with one saying they will see their father again soon and another asking God to take to take care of them.
Dr McAlpine also notes no children, who were aged between four and nine, said they wish they had spent more time on Facebook, watching television or fighting with people.
After feeling there were not enough uplifting stories on Twitter, Dr McAlpine, who started working in palliative paediatric care in May 2017, posted dying children’s thoughts on life, which have been retweeted more than 50,000 times.
Dr Alastair McAlpine, who cares for terminally-ill children, has revealed the heart-wrenching words of wisdom of youngsters before they die to counteract the negativity on Twitter
He has previously posted sharing his compassion for his terminally-ill patients
He asked children what they had enjoyed and what gave life meaning, adding they are wise
No children said they wish they spent more time on social media or fighting with others
Youngsters said they loved their pets, with one finding his dog Rufus’ bark ‘funny’
Many unwell children worried about how their parents would cope after they had died
One of the take home messages from the experiment was all children love ice cream
Some said Harry Potter made them feel brave and they hoped to be like Sherlock Holmes
The youngsters valued the friends who treated them normally and did not notice they were ill
Many children loved the beach as they could make sandcastles and swim in the waves
IS DYING SCARY? STUDY SUGGESTS PASSING AWAY IS LESS FRIGHTENING THAN YOU MIGHT THINK
‘Dying is less sad and terrifying – and happier – than you think,’ according to Kurt Gray, the study author of research released in June 2017.
Researchers analyzed the final words of terminally ill patients and prisoners on death row to find their thoughts are more positive than you might expect.
They also discovered people often mention family and religion as they are about to pass away, suggesting these ease anxiety as we approach the end of our lives.
The researchers claim their findings should help us rethink how we treat those with incurable illnesses.
Mr Gray from the University of North Carolina, said: ‘In our imagination, dying is lonely and meaningless, but the final blog posts of terminally ill patients and the last words of death row inmates are filled with love, social connection and meaning.’
The scientists analyzed blog posts from terminally ill patients, as well as comparing the last words of inmates on death row.
‘I walk a special road with them’
Dr McAlpine trained in palliative care in May 2017 after feeling paediatric end-of-life support was overlooked.
He told the 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.’
Although Dr McAlpine struggles to see youngsters die, he adds it is rewarding to give them a dignified, pain-free passing, saying: ‘If I can make their lives slightly less bad, it’s worthwhile.’
He also believes maintaining a relationship with deceased children’s parents is a compliment to the standard of care he provides.
Although Dr McAlpine can find the negativity of his work overwhelming, he finds inspiration from the strength of the children’s parents.
Gynaecologist Dr Jennifer Gunter, who has previously criticised Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop for its health advice, described Dr McAlpine’s posts as ‘beautiful’, adding she was going to buy her 14-year-old children ice cream and read to them.
On September 2 2017, he posted an image of a tiny baby, saying his company on a Saturday night beats his followers’.
In January this year, Dr McAlpine told his Twitter followers: ‘NO ONE is as tough [as] the kids in Paeds cancer ward’.
The same month, he also tweeted: ‘We can’t always cure. But we can always comfort. There’s ALWAYS something we can do, whether it be a listening ear, a kind word, or a powerful drug.’
The children valued kindness, with one mentioning their granny made them smile
They also liked laughing, with one saying they love their daddy’s funny faces
The youngsters loved toys and superheroes, including Princess Sophia, Batman and teddies
Dr McAlpine summarised the take home messages as: be kind, read, spend time with family, laugh, go to the beach, tell people you love them and eat ice cream
WHAT DO PEOPLE SAY BEFORE THEY DIE?
Nurses who care for the terminally ill revealed the heart-wrenching last words of patients before they die, including their biggest regrets, fears and witnessing glimpses of heaven.
Terminally ill patients often request to have one final cup of tea before they die
Macmillan palliative care nurses at Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, say patients often wish to see their beloved pet one last time, while others simply request a cup of tea.
One nurse described how an unwell couple asked for their beds to be pushed together before dying within 10 days of each other.
Many patients’ last words include them complaining life is too short and regretting they spent their hard-earned retirement in ill health.
In an online BBC clip ‘What do people say before they die?’ from November 2017, the nurses add it is possible to have a ‘good death’ if people are pain free and surrounded by their families.
The nurses urge people not to be afraid of death but to instead discuss it openly
As well as some requesting a cup of tea, nurse Dani Jervis said: ‘We do get people that would like their favourite tipple.’
In terms of feeling regret, Ms Jervis added: ‘One person said life is too short, do the things that you want, do the things that make you happy.’
The Macmillan nurses urge people not to be afraid of death, with some patients reporting they see glimpses of heaven and describe it as ‘wonderful’.